About safeguarding in faith communities

Last updated: 18 Dec 2019
Introduction

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 checklist to assess 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 reports on a community approach to preventing sexual abuse in the home

> Download our resources on raising awareness of safeguarding children in black and minority ethnic communities

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

> Read our tips on parenting within Congolese and African communities

> Find out more about radicalisation

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 Advisory Service has a national safeguarding policy and procedures manual for the Catholic Church in England and Wales (Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service, 2019).

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 Muslim Council of Britain has provided a child protection policy template (PDF) to help mosques create their own safeguarding and child protection policies and procedures (Muslim Council of Britain, 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, 2019).

The United Synagogue has created a child protection policy (PDF) for use in its synagogues across the UK (United Synagogue, 2019).

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.

References

References

Catholic Church Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (2019) Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service. [Accessed 12/11/2019]

Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service (2019) National safeguarding policy and procedures manual. [Accessed 14/11/2019]

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

Church of Scotland (2019a) About us. [Accessed 12/11/2019].

Church of Scotland (2019b) Safer recruitment. [Accessed 11/11/2019].

Church of Scotland (2019c) Safeguarding publications. [Accessed 11/11/2019].

Church in Wales (2019) Safeguarding policy 2019. [Accessed 11/11/2019].

House of Bishops of the Church of England (2018a) National Safeguarding Team. [Accessed 12/11/2019].

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

Movement for Reform Judaism (2019) Child safeguarding policy (PDF). London: The Movement for Reform Judaism

Muslim Council of Britain (2019) Al Medina Mosque Child protection policy template (PDF). [Accessed 14/11/2019]

National Catholic Safeguarding Commission (2019) Documents. [Accessed 11/11/2019].

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

United Synagogue (2019) 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 11/11/2019].

Elearning

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.