Why Have Different Policies and Procedures for Safeguarding Children and Adults?

It may seem easier to have a single safeguarding policy and procedures. Here’s why that’s not a good idea.

In the past, organisations have combined the safeguarding of children with the safeguarding of adults at risk from harm or abuse in both their training and in their policies and procedures.

Many organisations support both adults and children, and it may seem easier and more convenient to have a single safeguarding policy and procedures. However, this is not recommended for a number of reasons:

  • Children and adults may each face a different set of issues
  • The definitions and terms used differ
  • Procedures for reporting abuse and handling cases are not the same
  • There is different legislation and policy

Adding safeguarding adults at risk to a safeguarding children policy often dilutes the message about adults. This is particularly likely when organisations base the policy and procedures on those originally written for children.

Having separate policies and procedures will enable everyone in your organisation to be clear about how to effectively safeguard both children and adults.

Self Determination

One important difference between safeguarding adults and safeguarding children is an adult’s right to self-determination. Adults may choose not to act at all to protect themselves, and it is only in extreme circumstances that the law intervenes. This will often only happen when an adult is assessed to lack capacity in that area, or where the concerns may extend to children, such as when they are living in the same household.

This can make the matter of safeguarding adults even more complex. It is not solely focused on creating an appropriate process and system to safeguard. It also needs to take into account the importance of creating a culture that embraces the adults themselves, informing and consulting them on all decisions affecting them.


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