Every primary school in the South West could receive its own trained ChildLine volunteer in a bid to tackle child abuse
The NSPCC, which runs the service, has launched its Now I Know appeal to fund the schools service it feels is vital in protecting children from abuse.
The charity is aiming to put the confidential children’s service in every primary school in the South West with visits once every two years to talk to children about abuse, how to protect themselves and where to get help if they need it.
Its new chief executive, Peter Wanless, said a massive reduction in child abuse can be achieved if more is done to prevent it before it starts.
“People in this country do not want to tolerate child abuse,” he said.
“We no longer need to convince them of the suffering it leads to, or the costs to future lives – Jimmy Savile’s crimes are one shocking illustration of the consequences when people do not speak up and are not heard, for whatever reason. But we must now inspire everyone to believe that such horrors can be prevented and that they can help.”
The ChildLine Schools Services, which is delivered by trained volunteers and provided for free to all primary schools across the UK, aims to help children aged 9-11 understand abuse. NSPCC research shows, on average, at least two children in every primary classroom will have suffered some form of abuse or neglect.
But ChildLine says the majority who contact its helpline are aged over 11 and often talk about abuse that happened months, or even years, earlier.
“Protection after the event, vital as it is, can’t attack the root causes of the problem,” added Mr Wanless.
“Like us, many professionals and organisations are developing new thinking on prevention and the future tide of child abuse cannot be turned without this.
“By helping children understand and identify abuse in an age appropriate way, we can encourage them to speak out earlier and protect themselves and others from the devastating effects of abuse.
“We want children to be able to say ‘Now I Know’ – and not, ‘I wish I had known’. And we want everyone to play their part by looking out for children and reinforcing the messages about speaking up.”
The service has already visited 15,868 children in 224 schools in the South West, and the charity said it has proved incredibly popular with parents and teachers.
For details visit www.nowiknow.org.uk
Protecting a generation – one primary school at a time
Identifying abuse and making it stop has been ChildLine’s mission for more than 26 years. We started on the phone, we went online and now we’re reaching out.
Many primary school children are suffering abuse and neglect. Yet they can wait months, or even years, before contacting ChildLine or getting any kind of help. These are young children. They’re still learning to read and write, but they can’t find the words to talk about their abuse.
Some suffer in silence for so long – at the hands of those who are supposed to protect them – they can believe what’s happening is normal.
With your support we’re going to protect a generation of children, one primary school at a time. We will help them understand abuse, give them the confidence to talk, and show them who’s ready to listen.