Some Useful Terms

Adult – An adult is a person aged 18 or over

Adult Protection – This is part of safeguarding and refers to the activities undertaken to protect vulnerable adults from neglect and/or potential harm or abuse. Many local authorities have replaced this term with the term Safeguarding Adults.

Authorised Listener – Is a competent and trained person appointed by the diocese to listen to those who have or want to disclose abuse, in particular for those who disclose abuse from within the church community. The Authorised Listener supports the individual who discloses abuse and helps them to make decisions in relation to next steps.

Children – The term “child” is used to include all children and young people who have not yet reached their 18th birthday.

Child Protection – This is a part of safeguarding and refers to the activities undertaken to protect specific children who have suffered, or are likely to suffer ‘Significant Harm’. Many local authorities have replaced this term with the term Safeguarding Children.

Church Officer – Anyone appointed/elected by or on behalf of the Church to an office, post or role, whether they are ordained or lay, paid or unpaid

Church Bodies – Include parishes, dioceses, cathedrals, religious communities, theological training/education institutions, National Church Institutions (NCIs) and other associated bodies.

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) – Combines what were formerly the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA). The DBS has the power to bar an individual from engaging in work/activities classified as “regulated activity” (paid or voluntary) with children or vulnerable adults (pursuant to the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006) where the individual’s past behaviour has been assessed as indicating a risk of harm

Safeguarding  – safeguarding means protecting people’s health, wellbeing and human rights, and enabling them to live free from harm, abuse and neglect. It’s fundamental to flourishing Christian communities and is evidenced in good pastoral care.

Safeguarding in the Church of England means the action the Church takes to promote a safer culture. This means we will promote the welfare of children, young people and adults, work to prevent abuse from occurring, seek to protect those that are at risk of being abused and respond well to those that have been abused. We will take care to identify where a person may present a risk to others, and offer support to them whilst taking steps to mitigate such risks.

Significant Harm – The Children Act 1989 introduced the concept of significant harm as the threshold that justifies compulsory intervention in family life in the best interests of children.
Under Section 31(9) Children Act 1989, as amended by the Adoption and Children Act 2002: 

  • Harm means ill-treatment or impairment of health or development including for example impairment suffered from seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another; 
  • Development means physical, intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development; 
  • Health means physical or mental health; 
  • Ill-treatment includes sexual abuse and forms of ill-treatment which are not physical.

Where the question of whether harm suffered by a child is significant turns on the child’s health and development, the health or development shall be compared with that which could reasonably be expected of a similar child e.g. of similar age, gender, culture etcetera (S 31 (9) (10) of the Children Act 1989 as amended by the Adoption and Children Act 2002).

ictims/Survivors – The term victim is used to describe those that have been subject to abuse. All abuse is traumatic and effects of abuse continues long after the event.

Vulnerable Adult – For the purpose of Church policy and guidance the definition of “vulnerable adult” is contained in the Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure 2016 That defines a ‘‘vulnerable adult’ as a person aged 18 or over whose ability to protect himself or herself from violence, abuse, neglect or exploitation is significantly impaired through physical or mental disability or illness, old age, emotional fragility or distress, or otherwise; and for that purpose, the reference to being impaired is to being temporarily or indefinitely impaired’. 

Please note that the Care and Support Statutory Guidance issued under the Care Act 2014 (14.2) by the Department of Health uses the term ‘adults experiencing, or at risk of abuse or neglect’ in order to assess eligibility to statutory social care services.

However, the term ‘vulnerable adult’ is used in the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 and other legislation in relation to eligibility for criminal record checks and as a result appears in DBS guidance.