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.
Is there a relationship between children’s wellbeing and perceptions of safety from sexual harm? (Resource Table)
Children’s safety and wellbeing continue to receive increased research and policy driven attention. 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 relating 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 years involved in an Australian-based, children’s welfare organisation responded online to the Australian Safe Kids and Young People survey. No correlation between any of the subscales of the safety questions and wellbeing were apparent in this particular sample. Early findings from this initial sample indicate that young people involved in child-welfare organisations may not consider safety from sexual harm in the same way they think of more general aspects of safety. These findings do however need to be corroborated with a broader sample of young people involved in a range of organisation types. Implications of the findings relate to how youth-serving organisations incorporate training and activities related to children’s safety, and the importance of measuring children’s perceptions of safety regarding sexual harm separately to wellbeing. This would support a holistic understanding of children’s perceptions of their safety and wellbeing.