05 February 2018

Our Safety Counts: Children and young people’s perceptions of safety and institutional responses to their safety concerns: A report for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

This study examines children and young people’s perceptions of safety within institutions, and their views on how adults and institutions are responding to their safety needs. Findings revealed that while many children and young people said they felt safe at school, in sporting teams, at holiday camps and at church and were confident that adults in these institutions valued their views and opinions, about 10 per cent of young people aged over 14 were sceptical about these adults. They reported these adults did not really know children and failed to talk to them about their worries or concerns. Many young people reported they would be more likely to seek help from friends and parents than from staff in institutions. While only small numbers reported never feeling safe, that institutions were not child safe and that they had little confidence in efforts to keep them safe, their experiences and needs should be addressed. The study noted that in particular, young women's need for more information on what actions to take in unsafe situations and older young people's need for adults to have sufficient knowledge of the young people to be able to identify situations where they may be unsafe, need to be specifically addressed. Also many children and young people still perceive there are barriers to seeking and being given support from institutions. Meaningful strategies are required to address these barriers.