Extra Familial Harm

What is Extra Familial Harm?

Extra Familial Harm, sometimes known as harm outside the home and contextual safeguarding, is a term used to describe the risk and harm a child is typically facing from outside their home.

(Please note that you will see references to all three terms throughout this page).

Quite often, the focus of ‘risk of harm’ is intrafamilial (within the home environment), however many other risks, including child exploitation, pose a threat to a child within the wider context, outside of their the home and are equally important when identifying safeguarding concerns.

Take a look at some of the resources below to help inform your practice and find support or read more in our one minute guide to contextual safeguarding here

What does Extra Familial Harm look like?

Children can be vulnerable to multiple forms of extra-familial harm from both adults and/or other children within their communities, peer groups and online.​ These harms are child abuse and never the fault of a child who is a victim.

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An introduction to Contextual Safeguarding

Dr Carlene Firmin, The Contextual Safeguarding Network, explores the concept of contextual safeguarding with this introductory webinar on extra-familial harm.

The principles of Contextual Safeguarding

This short video gives a helpful overview of Contextual Safeguarding and its core principles.

How do we respond to Extra Familial Harm in the Wakefield District?

Below is some quick guidance for practitioners working or volunteering with children and their families to identify and respond to extra familial harm.

  • Relationship building
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    - Make time to hear what a child is telling you as they are the expert of their experience.
    - Connect with a child - explore topics such as music, hobbies or food
    - Build trust
    - Be transparent about your concerns and your intentions.
    - Do what you say you will & avoid overpromising
  • Being Trauma Informed
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    Make every contact count.

    Prioritise physical, psychological and emotional safety. Ask what a child needs to feel safe. 
    Those who have experienced trauma may feel powerless to control what happens to them so working to empower a child will give them a sense of agency. 
    Reflect on your own experiences & biases & how systems & processes can perpetuate not accessing support. Recognise & address power dynamics.

    Read more about Adversity, Trauma & Resilience

  • Language to empower
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    When talking about children & exploitation, language matters. It can be the difference between a child being effectively supported or feel they cannot access support. A child is not to blame for their abuse and the language we use should always reflect this.

    The misuse of language can perpetuate blame and bias.

    Download the Children’s Society Language Toolkit

The importance of language

How the language we use can open up contextual opportunitites to keep children safe

A short video by Dr Carlene Firmin which looks at the language we use when discussing harm outside the home.


The Contextual Safeguarding Network

This website has a wealth of information, links to videos, podcasts, briefings and many other up to date resources from peer on peer abuse to safety mapping to harmful sexual behaviour and much more.

Find out more here

Click here for their online learning programme

Join the network

Join the network
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  • Appropriate Language in Relation to Child Exploitation
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    This document seeks to provide guidance to professionals on the appropriate use of language when discussing children and their experience of exploitation in a range of contexts.

    To access the guidance, please click here.

One Minute Guide
  • Contextual Safeguarding
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    Contextual Safeguarding is an approach to understanding, and responding to a child’s experiences of significant harm outside of their home / family Read more and download here

    To view the Child Exploitation series of One Minute Guides visit our Child Exploitation Learning and Development page and read more about online, child criminal, child trafficking, modern slavery and financial exploitation.

Developing skills and knowlegde around Extra Familial Harm
  • Text link image Learning & Development
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    Access the range of Child Exploitation training, development and resources from WSCP, as well as signposting to local and national services on our Child Exploitation learning & development page.

    There you will find links to current training offers, one minute guides, briefings, learning from reviews and signposting to local and national services that can help you with developing your skills and knowledge around Child Exploitation.

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