In a 2018 briefing, we introduced and described the concept of Transitional Safeguarding as: ‘an approach to safeguarding adolescents and young adults fluidly across developmental stages which builds on the best available evidence, learns from both children’s and adult safeguarding practice and which prepares young people for their adult lives’.
It sought to reflect concerns that some young people ‘fall through the net’ as they turn 18. Unlike other areas of practice and policy, safeguarding has retained a strikingly binary construct of childhood and adulthood. This is despite the fact that many harms do not stop at 18 and research highlighting that our brains continue to develop well into our mid-20s.
One director described the separate safeguarding systems as ‘two different planets, seemingly moving even further apart’, with differing policy frameworks, legislative duties, thresholds for intervention, and Government departments overseeing these two planets… Analysis of safeguarding reviews shows the tragic consequences for those older teenagers and young adults poorly served by this disconnected system.