7 Safeguarding Scenarios for Early Years Settings

Safeguarding children and young people is an ongoing responsibility for all staff working in education and care settings. Child welfare and well-being is a priority and fast responses and early intervention are critical to outcomes. Regardless of age, sex, religion, belief or sexual orientation, all children and young people have a right to protection from harm and risk.

Safeguarding is an ongoing action, once the training course is complete, ensuring your staff’s skills and knowledge is kept up to date and fresh is imperative to early identification. Whilst this includes identifying the signs and symptoms of potential abuse or neglect, how does your setting support staff to identify the more covert issues or the behavioural issues inside the setting?

The use of case studies and scenarios can be a powerful opportunity for staff to consider the wider risks to younger people and discuss how, as a setting, you can respond to these quickly and effectively, utilising the appropriate channels.

In this article, we offer seven scenarios to explore in your next team meeting:

Scenario 1

It’s your rota’d time to support children’s personal care routines in the toddler room (1-2 years). Whilst changing Max’s nappy you are searching for his sudocream and come across a magazine tucked in the back of the bag. You initially disregard it, but as you put things away you notice that it contains pornographic images. What do you do next?

Scenario 2

Jack is nearly 4 years old. He is in receipt of the 30 hours funding. His attendance is good and Jack appears to thoroughly enjoy being at nursery. At snack time you notice that Jack is very hungry, he tells you there was ‘no breakfast’. In the morning, you observe him being very subdued from his friends. In the afternoon he tells you that ‘mummy is sad’. What are your next steps?

Scenario 3

Lucy has been at your pre-school for six months. You have noticed that her parents have very different relationships with her. Her mum is very anxious about whether she is meeting her targets and working at the ‘same level’ as her friends. She constantly asks for advice and guidance, and you have noticed that she seems to question everything she does. Her father is quite abrupt with staff, and with Lucy. He frequently comments she needs to be ‘braver’ and ‘toughen up’ and Lucy is noticeably subdued when she is with him. At parents evening, her father talks over her mother and you find it challenging to engage them both in conversations about Lucy’s development. What will you do?

Scenario 4

Whilst supporting children in the bathroom you notice that three year old Susie is very subdued. She is reluctant to go to the toilet despite looking uncomfortable and as though she needs to go. You ask her if she needs some help, and when you are supporting notice that her genital area is very sore and red. What are your next steps?

Scenario 5

You have a new parent joining your setting with their child. On arriving mum attends alone. She is very quiet and listens carefully when you are touring her around the nursery. When you sit together to review the policies and procedures she discloses that she was subjected to FGM as a child and is scared that her family may try to force this upon her baby daughter. What are your next steps?

Scenario 6

Joe is a father of a 3 year old in your setting. Recently, on a number of occasions, his son, Luke, has commented that ‘mummy and daddy were shouting’. Luke has always been keen on rough and tumble play but in the last few weeks this has escalated. When Joe arrives to pick Luke up you notice that he has a bruise on the side of his face. On asking if he is ok, Luke shouts ‘mummy did it’. Joe laughs, changes the subject and takes Luke home. What are your next steps?

Scenario 7

At lunchtime, you are sat in the staff room and notice that two colleagues are looking at their phone. When you sit and listen it appears that they have taken photos of some of the children in the garden. You ask if they took them today and they comment ‘they were so sweet’ I’m going to print the photographs for their mum. What do you do?



If you would like to learn more about safeguarding and the risks and challenges which affect young people, visit our course page.


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Further help 

For more articles about mental health visit – HERE 

To learn more about child and adolescent mental health visit – HERE

For resources to support child and adolescent mental health visit – HERE

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