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Safeguarding in faith communities

Last updated: 20 May 2020
Two young people walking down the street

Nurturing, respecting and caring for children are part of the teachings and values of all major faiths. There is a general expectation to care for all life and a duty to support those in society who most need care and protection.

Safeguarding and child protection guidance puts a duty on organisations to promote children’s welfare and protect them from harm.

Faith can play a major role in children and young people’s lives. Places of worship and faith settings should take steps to keep them safe, including:

  • following the relevant national legislation and guidance
  • ensuring children are properly supervised
  • making sure all adults understand how to share concerns about the safety or welfare of a child or young person
  • making the environment as safe as possible for children and young people.

We all have a role to play in keeping children safe. Children need to be protected irrespective of religious beliefs. Under UK law, it is never acceptable to harm a child no matter what you believe.


What you need to do

What you need to do

Write a safeguarding and child protection policy and procedures

All faith organisations and faith-based groups that come into contact with children should have a safeguarding and child protection policy and procedures.

Your policy should set out what your organisation or group will do to keep children safe and your procedures should set out how you will do it.

Some religious institutions have provided their own guidance and policies on how to safeguard children within their faith settings. These work alongside faith principles and can be used to help develop your own policies and guidance.

> Find out more about writing a safeguarding policy and procedures

Appoint a nominated child protection lead

A nominated child protection lead is someone who takes the lead in ensuring your organisation is taking all the necessary safeguarding and child protection steps.

If your faith organisation is large, you should consider having more than one nominated child protection person, each with different responsibilities but all working together to support the child protection work in your organisation.

> Find out more about the role of the nominated child protection lead

Helpful safeguarding resources for faith groups

We have a range of resources to help you create safeguarding and child protection arrangements and foster a safe environment for children and young people.

> Use our safeguarding self-assessment tool to review what your organisation or group is doing well and what you need to improve

> Read our common safeguarding concerns page for practical advice on safeguarding children in different scenarios

> Learn about safer recruitment practices to ensure you put child protection at the heart of recruitment and employment procedures

> Read our advice on working with young volunteers to help you with recruiting, safeguarding and supporting young volunteers

> Read our advice for organisations and groups on keeping children safe online, including using social media


Working with faith communities

Working with children, families and faith communities

Understanding more about a child’s faith and the role faith can play in family life is important for anyone working with children, families or communities.

It can help you find appropriate ways to approach conversations around child protection and organisational safe practice.

Certain practices linked to faith, beliefs or culture, may put children at risk of abuse. People working with faith groups or communities should be aware of, identify and appropriately respond to any child protection concerns linked to culture, faith and belief.

Safeguarding children should be the focus of all actions.

> Find out more about recognising and responding to abuse

Safeguarding resources for those working with children, families and faith communities

We have a range of resources available to those working with faith communities to support their safeguarding efforts:

> Listen to our podcast about safeguarding within faith-based communities

> Read our learning from case reviews briefing on culture and faith

> Read our guide for Jewish communities if you’re worried about a child (PDF)

> Find out more about radicalisation

Local campaigns to support communities

We want to help families and communities feel confident, empowered and informed about safeguarding by partnering with you. Our campaigns are tailored to your needs and environment and will be delivered in your local area. Have any ideas or initiatives you want to develop?

> Find out more about what our local campaigns team do and how you can contact us

Films about safeguarding in different faiths

Films about safeguarding in different faiths

Watch our series of films about safeguarding children and young people in different faiths, covering Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism.

Inter-faith overview







Contact us

Our team of safeguarding experts have provided support to many faith groups, talked at inter-faith events and given advice on specific cases. Find out how we can help you integrate safeguarding practices in your faith community.

Email your question


Legislation and guidance

Legislation and guidance

National safeguarding and child protection legislation and guidance

Legislation and guidance across the UK highlights the responsibility of faith groups to keep children safe and report concerns.

> Learn more about safeguarding and child protection legislation and guidance across the UK 

Guidance from faith groups

There is also guidance from some faith groups and organisations. This is designed to support followers of specific faiths in implementing and maintaining safeguarding and child protection arrangements.

Although this guidance is specific to certain faiths and/or nations, best practice can be used by other faiths to improve their organisation’s child protection arrangements.

The Church of England has a National Safeguarding Team, which has created a Parish safeguarding handbook (PDF) (House of Bishops of the Church of England, 2018a; 2018b).

The Church of Scotland’s Safeguarding Service provides child protection resources and guidance, including advice on safe recruitment and safeguarding handbooks (The Church of Scotland, 2019a; The Church of Scotland, 2019b; The Church of Scotland, 2019c).

The Church in Wales has published safeguarding and child protection guidance in their safeguarding policy (The Church in Wales, 2019).

The Church of Ireland has published a child safeguarding policy (PDF) which is also approved for use in Northern Ireland (Church of Ireland, 2018).

The Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency has a national safeguarding policy for the Catholic Church in England and Wales (Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency, 2021).

The Vatican has published safeguarding and child protection guidance (PDF), “vos estis lux mundi”, obliging every Catholic diocese to report abuse and violence (The Vatican, 2019).

The Movement for Reform Judaism has a child safeguarding policy (PDF) with useful definitions and resources to help identify and disclose child abuse and neglect (The Movement for Reform Judaism, 2021).

The United Synagogue has a child protection policy (PDF) for use in its synagogues across the UK (United Synagogue, 2023).

The Network for Jewish Youth Provision, Reshet, in conjunction with the Jewish Leadership Council, has created a Safeguarding in the Jewish Community position paper (PDF) (Reshet, 2018).

Keep up to date with new legislation and guidance by signing up to CASPAR, our current awareness service for policy, practice and research.




Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency (2021) National safeguarding policy. [Accessed 14/02/2022].

Church of Ireland Safeguarding Trust (2018) Child safeguarding policy (PDF). Dublin: The Church of Ireland.

Church of Scotland (2019a) About us. [Accessed 14/02/2022].

Church of Scotland (2019b) Safer recruitment. [Accessed 14/02/2022].

Church of Scotland (2019c) Safeguarding publications. [Accessed 14/02/2022].

Church in Wales (2019) Safeguarding policy 2019. [Accessed 14/02/2022].

House of Bishops of the Church of England (2018a) National Safeguarding Team. [Accessed 04/06/2024].

House of Bishops (2018b) Parish safeguarding handbook (PDF). London: Church House Publishing.

Movement for Reform Judaism (2021) Child safeguarding policy (PDF). London: The Movement for Reform Judaism.

Reshet (2018) Safeguarding in the Jewish community (PDF). [s. l.]: Reshet.

United Synagogue (2023) Child protection policy (PDF). London: United Synagogue.

The Vatican (2019). Apostolic letter issued motu proprio by the supreme pontiff Francis: “vos estis lux mundi (PDF)”. [Accessed 14/02/2022].


Our online and face-to-face training courses can help develop your understanding of how to protect children from abuse and safely recruit staff and volunteers to work with children:

If you need more specific information, please contact our Information Service.