Douglas is a qualified primary school teacher with a Masters in Psychology. As well as working as a behavior therapist with children with developmental disabilities, Douglas has most recently lectured at the tertiary level with a focus on Developmental Psychology and Early Childhood Education. He now manages ICPS’s Children’s Safety Studies; research regarding the participation of children and young people in safeguarding research and the capabilities of staff and volunteers to keep children safe.
Oral Paper: Children’s perceptions of safety and well-being.
Children’s safety and wellbeing have continued to receive increased research and policy driven attention both in Australia and internationally. Previous research has found a correlation between children’s wellbeing and their perceptions of general safety; however, a dearth of literature has examined whether young people’s perceptions of safety related to grooming and unsafe interactions with adults and peer in youth-serving organisations relates to children’s self-reported wellbeing. In light of the recent Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the development of a measure of young people’s perceptions of institutional safety has allowed for an examination of this relationship. A sample of young people (N = 267) aged between 10 and 17 involved in an Australian based children’s welfare organisation responded online to the Australian Safe Kids and Young People survey. Significant correlations between all the subscales of the safety questions and wellbeing were apparent in this particular sample. Early findings from this initial sample indicate that the well-being of young people involved in child-welfare organisations is associated with their perceptions of safety, confidence in adults in youth-serving organisations and a lack of barriers to disclosing potential abuse. These findings however need to be corroborated with a broader sample of young people involved in a range of organisation types (such as schools, sports clubs and youth development organisations). Implications of the findings relate to how youth-serving organisations implement training and update policies related to children’s safety, measure the effect of these strategies on young people’s perceptions of safety, and the effect on children’s wellbeing.