Understanding the links between child development and safeguarding

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In order to successfully safeguard children and young people, we must give consideration to the age and developmental stage of the child from a number of different perspectives.

  • Abuse can manifest itself somewhat differently at different stages. For example, neglect of a 3-month-old will look somewhat different to the neglect of a 3-year-old, and both will be very different to the neglect of a 13-year-old.
  • Children are more vulnerable to different kinds of abuse at different ages and developmental stages For example, typically, the younger the child, the more vulnerable they will be to abuse, however, some (particularly exploitation within the community) require a greater degree of independence and so children become more vulnerable to these as time passes.
  • Abuse will have a negative impact on one or more areas of the child's development, and so developmental delay may be an indicator of abuse. (There are of course many children who are developmentally delayed who are not abused, but where abuse occurs, some sort of developmental delay may well be present.

For these reasons, it is important that we have a basic awareness of the key developmental milestones. We do not need a detailed medical knowledge, but a basic understanding of the key stages that a child progresses through is important.

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Evangelical Alliance FIEC Affinity Samaritan's Purse EFCC Assemblies of God Anglican Mission in England Church Growth Trust

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