Appendix 1: Useful Definitions

Disclosure Scotland

This statutory body helps employers make safer recruitment decisions and prevent unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups, including children.  It supports the implementation and management of the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007 (PVG).

Children or young person

This applies to a person who has not yet reached their 18th birthday.  In legislation and guidance ‘child’ typically refers to those under the age of 18 who are still in full-time education and ‘young person’ refers to those under the age of 18 who have left full-time education.

Vulnerable adult

The University considers any person to be vulnerable if they need additional protection or input to enable them to achieve their full potential.  An individual’s vulnerability can vary depending on the activity being carried out and the people that are present.  Some of the groups the University deems to be vulnerable include, but are not limited to:

  • Students with experience of care
  • Young carers
  • Students with disabilities, where they have specific support needs and as a result of those needs are unable to protect themselves against the risk of abuse or harm
  • Students who are, or have been, subject to abuse
  • Students who are estranged and studying without family support
  • Students who are suffering from significant mental health issues
  • Researchers and research participants working or living in potentially hazardous locations including Official Development Assistance countries


This is the term used to promote the welfare and protection from harm of children, young people and vulnerable adults.  This term is broader than ‘child protection’ which refers to activities undertaken to prevent children suffering significant harm.  Safeguarding, in addition to child protection, also encompasses protecting children from maltreatment, preventing impairment of children’s health and ensuring children grow up in a safe environment.

Position of trust

A position of trust is one where the person (who is 18 or over) ‘looks after’ persons under 18 who are receiving education at an educational establishment.  ‘Looks after’ is defined as caring for, training, supervising or being in sole charge of a child or children.

Members of staff must not put children or young people at risk of harm by their own conduct.  It is a criminal offence for a person who is 18 or over to engage in sexual activity with a person who is under 18, where the older person is in a position of trust.  (The University’s Personal Relationships Policy provides further guidance.)


This is a violation of human and civil rights by another person.  It may be planned or unplanned and consist of a single act or repeated acts.  Abuse can take many forms and includes but is not limited to:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Neglect
  • Discriminatory abuse
  • Online abuse