Thousands of children have been learning about abuse and who to turn to for help thanks to an NSPCC project in schools.
In Sheffield alone 14,000 youngsters have had a special assembly and taken part in a workshop where bullying, neglect, physical, sexual and emotional abuse were discussed.
The idea is to help children understand what abuse is and how to report it to prevent youngsters suffering in silence.
Sheffield Heeley MP Louise Haigh visited Woodseats Primary School last week to find out about the project, which is delivered by an army of volunteers.
Karen Squillino, from Sheffield, helps run the ‘Speak Out. Stay Safe’ project, which is being delivered across the country.
“Children deserve to have a childhood,” she said.
“The project has three aims - for all children to know what abuse, in all its forms, is; for children to know how to keep themselves safe and how to report abuse.
“We go into schools and deliver an assembly about safety and abuse but then we go back two weeks later to deliver a workshop where we go into all the different types of abuse there are and encourage children to think about who they could turn to if they were worried or concerned.
“The service does not encourage disclosure at the point of delivery but the hope is that it empowers them to have the confidence to recognise and then report abuse, and we have evidence that it is starting to happen.”
She said a lot of victims do not realise that they are being abused.
“A lot of young children do not know what abuse is as nobody has ever spoken to them about it. Perpetrators often say it happens to everyone,” she said.
“What this project does is give children the knowledge and the language to use to speak out.
“The impact that abuse can have on people can affect them through to adulthood and sadly statistics show that three children in every classroom will experience some form of abuse.”
Karen Dunning, assistant head teacher at Woodseats Primary School, said the NSPCC has delivered its assemblies and workshops at the school twice.
She is urging all schools to take advantage of the project, which is provided free of charge.
“The NSPCC goes into schools every two years and delivers an assembly about how children can keep themselves safe, recognise abuse and where to go for help,” she added.
“It is important that schools take up this offer because every child needs every opportunity to understand how to keep themselves safe. Keeping children safe has to be a priority.”
The project helps children learn that they should never worry in silence, that abuse is never their fault and who to contact if they want to talk.
It was launched in 2011 after research found that most children who contact the NSPCC’s ChildLine telephone helpline are over 11 years old but in many cases have been abused for years before.
The hope is that teaching children about abuse at an early age will help them recognise and report it.
Nationally the NSPCC has visited 15,000 schools to help raise awareness of abuse..
MP Miss Haigh, who observed an NSPCC assembly at Woodseats Primary School, said: “I am so pleased I had the opportunity to observe the assembly at Woodseats.
“The children were very impressive in their knowledge of the issues and of Childline and were really keen to talk about issues that were raised in a safe and fun environment.
“I am glad to know children are getting sensible advice and instruction on an area where all parents at times can feel a bit anxious.
“It’s a very impressive, worthwhile activity and I would like to thank the NSPCC for organising this session.”
Elizabeth Kirwan, the NSPCC’s schools service area co-ordinator for South Yorkshire, said: “We were thrilled Miss Haigh was able to watch the Schools Service in action today.
“She saw first hand the amazing contribution people from the local community are making to help keep children safe.”
Peter Wanless, the NSPCC’s chief executive, said: “Children who suffer abuse often don’t recognise what is happening to them is wrong. In many cases abuse has been going on for some time before they find the courage to speak out.” The project is run by NSPCC volunteers who deliver assemblies and workshops in their local communities.
To find out more visit NSPCC
* Call Childline on 0800 1111 to chat to somebody about concerns or visit Child Line for an online chat.
* Call South Yorkshire Police on 101 or report abuse.
* Adults worried about a child, even if unsure about their doubts, should call 0808 800 5000 or email email@example.com.
* Call 0800 028 0285 to report child protection concerns in the workplace.
The helpline provides support and advice to those who feel unable to get a child protection issue addressed by their employer. It can be contacted anonymously.