Child Safeguarding Policy & Child Protection GuidanceSection 1: Our commitment to children & young people

1.1 Policy scope

The University of Strathclyde works with children and young people:

  • Undergraduate students can be under the age of 18
  • Widening access and recruitment activities take place on or off campus
  • The University offers open events, services, courses, facilities, summer schools, excursions, volunteering, mentoring, placements and internships which may bring our students and staff into contact with children and young people regularly, on and off campus
  • Children may be involved in research or professional practice, such as that undertaken in social care, health or education settings
  • Children may be beneficiaries of international or cross-border programmes
  • Our operations may facilitate contact with children, or have an impact on children e.g. sports, recreation, clubs and societies
  • Young people under the age of 18 may be employed by the University
  • Students and University staff may be pregnant or parents/carers of children
  • University IT systems and services may be used, or accessed by children

1.2 Safeguarding children is everyone’s responsibility

Everyone is required to play their part to promote, support and safeguard children and young people’s wellbeing, to ensure they are safe to thrive and supported to reach their potential when participating in University programmes across the physical, digital or global campus.

This guidance applies to all members of the University Community including:

  • University Court and Senate Members, Trustees, Executive Team Representatives
  • All members of staff including those with full-time, part-time and sessional contracts, honorary staff, and staff from other institutions or organisations on placement, or working on a visiting basis at the University
  • All students, including exchange and placement students
  • University students and staff on, and off campus (including work-based and placement learning, clinical, educational, legal settings etc.) regardless of their mode of study and irrespective of whether a matter arises during term time or academic holiday periods.
  • Visitors, including adults and children using the University’s premises
  • Individuals working or acting on the University’s behalf including suppliers of goods and services, and those who represent the University regardless of the nature or term of their contract or secondment, or location.
  • Contractors and volunteers working at, or on behalf of the University.
  • receive a disclosure of harm
  • have a concern about a child, young person, or an unborn child in the case of a pregnant person.
  • receive or make an allegation of abuse
  • have a concern that a person is at risk, see or suspect abuse (no disclosure)

Any member of the University Community can report a safeguarding concern.

This policy advises on what to do if you need to report a child safeguarding concern or incident. A child or young person may approach a person or service within the university, to discuss issues or circumstances in their life that impact upon their wellbeing, or you may:

We use the term Reporter to describe a person who reports an incident, a disclosure or a concern.

We use the term Reported to describe a person who is accused of causing harm or is considered a cause for concern.  Where a person at risk discloses or discusses potential abuse or harm, the staff member or volunteer should be able to:

  • Recognise signs of harm or abuse
  • Respond sensitively
  • Record Factually
  • Report using Report and Support

The University’s First Responder Team will respond to all concerns quickly and sensitively.

Where there are concerns about harm, abuse or neglect, it is not your responsibility to decide whether abuse has occurred, or to investigate or to judge, it is simply to report any concerns. Whether a ‘persistent doubt’ or something may not ‘feel right’. Speak up. To understand how to recognise, respond and report a child safeguarding matter,

See Section 4: Reporting Procedure.

1.3 Our child safeguarding principles

All University representatives are required to conduct themselves in a manner consistent with the following Principles. Any concerns will be treated seriously, and if necessary disciplinary or legal action taken. Failure to report any suspicion of abuse relating to someone else is a breach of this Guidance and could lead to Staff or Student disciplinary action being taken.

  • The welfare and wellbeing of every child or young person is paramount.
  • We work together to ensure robust steps are taken to protect children from abuse.
  • We value, listen to and respect all children and young people with equal protection regardless of protected characteristic.
  • We promote a culture where anyone who is bound by this policy is supported to raise issues about safeguarding, in confidence.
  • Our role / employment within the University community places us in a position of trust, and we all undertake to uphold trust at all times.
  • We have developed a clear process for dealing with allegations against people who work with children through which all suspicions and allegations of abuse will be taken seriously and appropriate action taken.
  • All managers, employees, volunteers and other representatives have access to, and are trained so that they are familiar with this policy, accountable, and know their responsibilities within it.
  • Our robust recruitment practices ensure that we will not recruit staff, volunteers or other representatives if they pose a known risk to children’s safety or wellbeing, and we uphold our duty to report.
  • Safeguarding and child protection are a distinct element within the induction process and all staff receive training on safeguarding children at a level commensurate with their role.

1.4 How to identify if a child or young person is at risk

Wellbeing: We refer to the ‘Getting it Right for Every Child’ (GIRFEC) eight GIRFEC Wellbeing Indicators (Table 1) to ensure a common understanding of what wellbeing means, and to identify what help a child or young person needs in order to help them access support.

Table 1: GIRFEC Wellbeing Indicators


Protected from abuse, neglect or harm


Supported to make healthy, safe choices contributing to both physical and mental health


Receive support and guidance while learning – boosting skills, confidence and self-esteem.


A safe, nurturing and stimulating place to develop and live.


Opportunities to take part in a wide range of activities towards a fulfilling future.


Opportunity to be heard and involved in decisions that affect them.


Opportunities and encouragement to take an active role within their learning and university communities, and having appropriate guidance and supervision.


Supported to overcome social, educational, physical and economic inequalities, and accepted as full members of the communities in which they live and learn.

An individual may share a concern or worry with you

A child or young person may disclose to you that they are experiencing harm or abuse, or a third party may tell you that a child is being abused. A disclosure may also relate to abuse that happened in the past (historical abuse). However, children and young people who suffer abuse may be afraid to tell anybody. They may struggle with feelings of guilt, shame or confusion – particularly if the abuser is a parent, caregiver or other close family member, friend or other children or young people. Some disabled or young children with dependency upon an abuser may feel more vulnerable.

General signs may be an indication that a child or young person is at risk, and you should report concerns using Report and Support.

It is not your job to judge or investigate if abuse is occurring. Simply ensure the immediate safety of the child or young person and report any concerns.

See Appendix B: General Signs of Abuse and Neglect

See Section 4: Reporting Procedure

1.5 Children’s Rights are at the heart of our decision & policy making

We recognise the innate vulnerability and inexperience of children and young people under 18 years, who may be entering University. At the very start of a project or programme and at every stage of development, the impact on children should be considered.  As such, we ensure children and young people are identified by age which helps us to provide targeted messaging and support. We should also aim to involve representative children and young people. We must ensure that the UNCRC guiding principles are embedded within our policy and practice and take the following steps to ensure that children and young people experience their rights:

  • We review our suite of Safe360° policies and procedures, supporting guidance and practice on a needs basis and in line with national guidance. We refer to NSPCC Learning, the Upstream Project and the CELCIS Knowledge Bank produced by the Centre for Excellence for Children's Care and Protection (CELCIS) and based at the University of Strathclyde.
  • Equality Impact Assessments (EIA) should ensure that the special needs and vulnerabilities of children, particularly by age and disability, are considered in planning and ongoing review to support continual improvement.
  • University Committees making and overseeing decisions are advised to consider the impact on children, necessary protections for children and protected characteristic groups. Relevant information should be highlighted within the Equality and Diversity section of the cover sheet for Committee Papers and where necessary, instructs a Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessments (CRWIA) are conducted where necessary and inform our decisions. These must be published separately from Equality Impact Assessments.

1.6 Designing safeguarding into the practical design & delivery of activity

Risk Assessment identifies preventable health, safety, and safeguarding risks, across both physical and digital environments. We take a proportionate response to mitigating risks identified. Where actions to ensure safety for an individual are not proportionate to the activity, or attainable, we may decline to provide a service.

See Section 3: Risk Assessment helps us safeguard

Partnership agreements with third parties should have safeguarding as a visible and demonstrable core component. They must be underpinned by Risk Assessment and robust procedures.

At induction or point of introduction to University activity, we promote the UNCRC to children and young people and ensure that they are aware of their rights and how to report a safeguarding issue.

See Appendix D: Strathclyde’s Children and Young People’s Charter

Communication by the University promotes safeguarding expectations and Report and Support. Clear reporting procedures and guidance are widely shared when working with Children and Young People Under 18.

Research involving children must be in line with University Procedures for Safeguarding Children. Guidance is produced for operational teams.

Training includes information about University and statutory policy positions, reporting and investigation procedures and how to embed Child Safeguarding in the University’s work. All University staff and representatives are expected to undertake training on Child Safeguarding and Child Protection commensurate with their role. Volunteers, mentors, and ambassadors require training to ensure that their capabilities and competencies are at a level where they can operate without putting themselves and others at risk

1.7 Digital safety

We want children who use our services to feel safe and valued and so we must understand the risks and issues associated with children and young people being online and apply this to our context. We recognise that children can be at risk of harm when they use technology. This could include:

  • Inappropriate or harmful online content incl. disturbing or upsetting videos, adverts and pop-ups
  • Talking to strangers, or having strangers view content
  • Lack of privacy (perceived or actual)
  • Sexual offending against children online
  • Bullying online
  • Risk of sharing personal information, images, and sexting
  • Online radicalisation and extremism

This requires the University to scrutinise specific safeguarding considerations for children and young people across communications, digital systems, and behaviours.

Social media and technology evolve rapidly and this guidance has been developed to educate students in the safe and constructive use of digital technologies, and model best practice to ensure our University is operating in line with our values and the within the law of how we behave online.

Online networking has transformed communicate with others, enabling us to communicate one to one or on a platform amongst large groups of people, increasingly from personal devices. Social media apps, networking sites, chatrooms, blogging, vlogging, instant messaging and video calls allow us to communicate remotely with many people many of whom we do not know or even see and sharing personal information.

Children and young people may expose themselves to danger, intentionally or unknowingly when using the internet, social media, and other technologies.

Non-contact abuse can take place online, for example, grooming for the purpose of sexual abuse. Some young people may find themselves involved in inappropriate or illegal activities.

This can include cyber-bullying or ‘sexting.’ Young people who send naked or inappropriate photos of themselves are sending child images, which is a criminal offence. Taking or sharing images of themselves or others can lead to disturbing consequences which may have a long-lasting impact, including blackmail, bullying, unwanted or public attention and emotional distress. This has serious implications if considered to constitute the sexual exploitation of children under the age of 18 through prostitution or pornography, as set out in the Protection of Children and Prevention of Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2005.

Any kind of abuse can have impact on a victim, for example, it may lead to victimisation and online hate content, which is also potentially illegal. Extremists use social media effectively to target and influence vulnerable individuals and spread ideologies that can lead to radicalisation.

This list is not exhaustive.

We produce guidance for staff to support the safe use of digital platforms and video calls.

1.8 Children & the UK General Data Protection Regulation

We comply with the UK General Data Protection Regulation and follow the guidance for Children and the UK GDPR

Children and young people have specific digital rights

We recognise and uphold the 5Rightsof young people in the digital world:

  1. The right to remove
  2. The right to know
  3. The right to safety and support
  4. The right to informed and conscious choices
  5. The right to digital literacy

Young Scot produce information on the 5Rights campaign.

Consent for information sharing

In Scotland, children aged 12 or over are presumed to be of sufficient age and maturity to exercise their rights in relation to their personal data, and to give consent for data protection purposes, unless the contrary is shown.

If a child is not competent to exercise their own data protection rights or consent to processing themselves then it will usually be in their best interests to allow an individual with parental responsibility to act on their behalf. Where a parent /carer acts on behalf of a child, note that the rights still belong to the child and not to the parent / carer.

Parent / carers may exercise rights on behalf of their child if:

  • The child is under the age of 12
  • The child is over the age of 12, but there are reasons why the child does not have sufficient understanding to exercise the rights for themselves
  • The child is over the age of 12 and has authorised the parent / carer to act on their behalf.

The University Policy on Children Accessing University of Strathclyde IT Systems sets out the necessity of supervision of children accessing online platforms. This is because the IT systems and general access permissions are for staff and students relate to work, study and research content, some aspects of this may be inappropriate for children under the age of 18 who are not registered to a course of study.