Local MPs gathered in Westminster this week with ChildLine volunteers and schoolchildren to see how a groundbreaking service is helping primary school children understand more about abuse and how to stay safe.
Ann Coffey local MP for Stockport was one of those who attended the House of Commons event in which volunteers from the ChildLine Schools Service demonstrated an assembly they deliver to year five and six pupils.
With stories of child abuse, exploitation and systematic child protection failures continuing to lead the news agenda, the service aims to speak to every primary school child, in every classroom of every community, to help them recognise abuse and where to seek help if they need it.
Delivered by dedicated local volunteers, the ChildLine Schools Service will give children the knowledge they need, in clear, reassuring and age-appropriate language. The sessions, which are delivered through assemblies and workshops, are sensitively tailored to ensure topics are covered in a way that children can understand and have been approved as suitable for nine to 11-year-olds by child protection specialists.
Ann who helped to bring the ChildLine School Service into Parliament said:
“This is the first time I have seen the Schools Service in action and I was thoroughly impressed.
“The ChildLine volunteers were particularly gifted in getting across some complex messages in an age appropriate way that made it easy for the children to understand.
“If you think you’ve got what it takes to talk to children and young people about how to stay safe and could spare a few hours a week, or are a school who would like the service delivered to your pupils, then I encourage you to get in touch with the NSPCC. This is a great service and a vital step in preventing child abuse and neglect”.
She continued: “I want to give my thanks to all the volunteers in Stockport from the NSPCC and ChildLine for the work they do and the difference they make.”
Karen Squilino, ChildLine Schools Service Manager for the North West said: “NSPCC research shows that an average of two children in every primary school classroom are suffering from abuse or neglect – and the majority of cases go undetected. These young children often feel alone and desperate and many have nobody to turn to.
“Most children who contact ChildLine are over 11 years of age, however many of these children suffered in silence for months or even years before eventually finding the courage to contact ChildLine. If we are really serious about stopping child abuse, we need to reach these children when they are younger.”
As part of the service, children are shown how to talk to trusted adults about problems that may be troubling them. They are also told about ChildLine and how to contact the helpline if they should ever need to. Across the UK, 67 per cent of children involved in the initial pilot for the service said that they were “much more likely to talk to someone” after the ChildLine Schools Service had visited their school. In addition to this, 81 per cent said they found the programme helpful.
Since its launch in November 2012, 55 schools and over 2081 children in the Greater Manchester area have benefited from the service.
By 2016 trained volunteers from the ChildLine Schools Service aim to have reached 1.7 million children through 25,000 school visits in the UK.
Karen from ChildLine continued: “If you think you’ve got what it takes to talk to children and young people about how to stay safe and could spare a few hours a week, then we’d really like to hear from you.”
For more information about the Schools Service in Stockport visit: www.nspcc.org.uk/schoolsservice.