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Peer-on-peer abuse toolkit

The Safeguarding Unit at Farrer & Co has produced the attached template peer-on-peer abuse policy (template policy), which encapsulates a Contextual Safeguarding approach, in collaboration with Dr Carlene Firmin, MBE – who is a leading expert on peer-on-peer abuse, and the driving force behind Contextual Safeguarding in this country. It should be noted that this is an interim version. The Safeguarding Unit and Dr Firmin will now collaborate with a number of other experts, on the template policy, a revised version of which will, for example, include a specific focus on digital behaviour.

What is peer-on-peer abuse?

Peer-on-peer abuse is any form of physical, sexual, emotional and financial abuse, and coercive control, exercised between children and within children's relationships (both intimate and non-intimate).

Peer-on-peer abuse can take various forms, including: serious bullying (including cyber-bullying), relationship abuse, domestic violence, child sexual exploitation, youth and serious youth violence, harmful sexual behaviour, and/or genderbased violence.

What is Contextual Safeguarding?

In order to prevent and tackle peer-on-peer abuse, schools can adopt a Contextual Safeguarding approach, which is an approach to understanding, and responding to, children’s experiences of significant harm beyond their families. It recognises that the different relationships that children form in their neighbourhoods, schools and online can feature violence and abuse. Parents and carers have little influence over these contexts, and children’s experiences of extra-familial abuse can undermine parent-child relationships. Therefore children’s social care practitioners need to engage with individuals and sectors who do have influence over/within extra- familial contexts, and recognise that assessment of, and intervention with, these spaces are a critical part of safeguarding practices. Contextual Safeguarding, therefore, expands the objectives of child protection systems in recognition that children are vulnerable to abuse in a range of social contexts.