Integrating child safeguarding into event risk assessment


Written by Thomas Stead, Owner of X2Consult – Safeguarding and Child Protection.

In the dynamic and ever-changing landscape of event management, a crucial aspect often overlooked is child safeguarding. Recent trends, however, indicate a significant shift, with many event planners and organisers now integrating child safety measures into their risk assessments more thoroughly than ever before. This change is not just a legal obligation but a moral one, ensuring the safety and welfare of younger attendees in various events, from festivals to corporate gatherings.

Child safety in event planning involves recognising and addressing unique risks that children might face in such environments. Unlike many adults, children have distinct needs and vulnerabilities, making it imperative for organisers to adopt a child-centric approach in their risk assessment strategies. Whether this is in relation to a missing child, those with SEN needs or even those that find bright lights and loud noises difficult. Safeguarding and child protection is moving in the right direction; however, getting event organisers and promotors to recognise the benefit of having this included in their planning is still somewhat a mixture within the industry.

The process begins with identifying potential hazards specific to children. These can range from physical risks like overcrowding, mixing of adults and children in unsecured areas, and those individuals attending events to harm and abuse young people.  however, there is more to safeguarding now with additional insidious threats such as exposure to inappropriate content or unauthorised individuals. The consideration of these factors is crucial in developing a safety plan that addresses the unique needs of children and the consistency to robustly manage their incidents.

Many of the key strategies in enhancing child safety is maintaining optimal child-to-staff ratios, as well as having ‘Designated Safeguarding Leads’ on site as well as ensuring staff have a good level of safeguarding training and experience, including understanding how to identify and respond to potential harm or abuse.

Beyond these basics, integrating child safety into risk assessments also means creating an environment that is not just safe but inclusive and engaging for children. This involves designing activities and spaces that cater to various age groups, ensuring that content is age-appropriate, and providing facilities like quiet zones or child-specific amenities.

An often-overlooked aspect is the emotional and psychological safety of children. Events can be overwhelming, and it’s vital to have protocols in place for managing lost children or dealing with children experiencing distress. This includes having a designated, safe area where children can be reunited with their guardians or calmed if needed. In an effort to standardise and elevate these practices, many event organisers are now collaborating with child welfare experts and organisations. Something X2Consult has been working hard to integrate into the industry. These partnerships allow for the integration of the latest research, trends, and best practices in child safety being entered into event planning. These collaborations also provide valuable training resources for staff and volunteers, ensuring they are equipped to handle various situations that may arise.

Another critical component is communication with parents and guardians. Clear information about safety measures, emergency procedures, and points of contact should be provided prior to the event. This not only reassures parents but also engages them as active participants in the safety process.

The impact of these integrated safety measures is insightful. Not only do they ensure the physical and emotional well-being of child attendees, but they also enhance the overall quality and appeal of events. Parents and guardians are more likely to allow their children to participate in and attend events that prioritise safety and their overall well-being. For any, a reputation for rigorous safety standards can significantly boost an event’s image and success.

In conclusion, the integration of child safeguarding into event risk assessments represents a significant advancement in the event industry. It reflects a growing awareness and commitment to ensuring that events are safe, enjoyable, and inclusive for all attendees, regardless of age. As the industry continues to evolve, this focus on child safety will undoubtedly become a standard, integral part of event planning and execution, setting a new benchmark in event management excellence.

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