Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Safeguarding at Christmas
Christmas is often seen as the most magical, family-orientated time of the year. But with this focus on family comes pressure – so much so that that same magic can be lost under the expectation of what Christmas SHOULD be.
Whether it’s the anxiety that comes with spending extended time around family members or not having a family to spend Christmas with, safeguarding practices can apply to apply to all aspects of the holidays.
Here, we’ll look at the many things to consider to ensure that both your child and adult safeguarding responsibilities aren’t lost in the craziness of Christmas.
Pressures and expectations
Christmas time comes with a lot of ideals that many households try to reach. This can bring families and groups closer together – but it can also cause tension. Whether it’s the abundance of alcohol or being cooped up for longer periods than usual, conflict can ensue and it can require safeguarding practices to be used.
On top of this, children in particular can have a very specific and idealised version of Christmas in their heads that may not come true in their household. Managing the expectations of those within your circle at Christmas is complicated, but the most important thing to remember is to prioritise the people first.
Pressure creates environments that can facilitate abusive behaviour. So, the key is to create a Christmas atmosphere not based on vanity (presents, lights, and whether you can cook the best dinner), but on welcoming values that make all members feel accepted.
Abuse at Christmas
The holiday season is often called the most wonderful time of the year – or at least that’s what the songs say.
However, this period can be an anxiety-inducing one for both adults and children experiencing domestic abuse in all of its forms. It can quickly turn into a frightening time for the victim. In the UK, there is often a surge in reports of domestic violence from men, women, and children trapped with their abusers.
This is usually after the core period, however, as Christmas time means there are fewer opportunities to report abuse. With many businesses and schools closed, accessing support can prove tricky for victims.
A consideration for both children and adults is their mental health over Christmas. Those who are or have been a part of households with child protection issues, domestic violence and mental health difficulties can carry those issues into other environments – sometimes unknowingly.
It’s been shown that people with mental health problems struggle with self-harm and suicidal feelings due to the pressure of Christmas. Not only can this create hostile environments for adults but the effects can ripple out onto children and young people, putting them in extremely vulnerable situations.
It’s important to know how to best support those with mental health issues at a time where it can seem like they are discarded.
With the prevalence of smartphones and online gaming, children and young people often spend their time over the Christmas holidays digitally connected to both friends and strangers.
These devices are often top of lists for young people and can provide fun for not only them but also the whole family. The catch is, of course, that anything with access to online platforms bring risks of cyberbullying, scams, and seeing content no appropriate for children.
A parent or caregiver plays a key role in children stay safe online. Any games or gadgets should be checked for safety and appropriate content, while communications and hours spent on them should be monitored.
Safeguarding at Christmas for Adults
The responsibility of creating the ‘perfect’ Christmas is that of the adults involved. Whether they’re parents, teachers or caregivers, pressure can easily get to those who feel like the enjoyment of everyone around them is in their hands.
This intense pressure can cause stress to the point that it can cause heart attacks in adults. Lack of sleep, emotional stress, anger towards others and alcohol abuse can all lead to negative effects on the adult and those around them. Letting go of the ‘idea’ of Christmas and allowing others to help create a household or space that is calm and loving is vital to not allowing the effects of overindulgence or pressure to play out.
To prevent any abuse or harm coming to children and adults this Christmas, you need to be able to spot the signs of it.
Our courses will bring you up to the required standards so you can understand the responsibilities and processes to correctly safeguard those around you – both in the workplace and outside of it. The learning can be done all at once, or on a timescale to suit the learner.