ChildLine is to roll out an ambitious new service that will visit every primary school in Scotland by 2016, to help children to understand abuse and how they can stay safe.
Using assemblies and workshops, the ChildLine Schools Service is designed to encourage children to recognise situations where they may need help and to let them know where they can get support if they need it.
Delivered by trained local volunteers, the Schools Service aims to give children the knowledge they need, in clear, reassuring and age-appropriate language. The sessions 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.
By speaking to every primary school child, in every classroom of every community, ChildLine wants to start a societal change that could bring about a long term reduction in child cruelty.
Across the north east the service now needs to recruit 36 volunteers to reach over 64,122 children across the region’s 332 primary schools by 2016 and to continue that programme for every generation year on year.
Benjamin Napier, ChildLine Schools Service manager for Scotland 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.
“Volunteers are key to the new service so it is vital that local people come forward to help us protect future generations. If you can spare the time please visit our website to find out more about joining the Schools Service as a volunteer.”
Julie Burn, from Balmedie, Aberdeenshire, is a volunteer with the ChildLine Schools Service and delivers sessions in primary schools across the north east. Julie said: “When children and young people contact ChildLine it’s because they have a worry of some kind. By being part of the Schools Service I hope we can give every child the information and the courage to be able to turn to ChildLine whenever they need to, or at least to speak to a trusted adult for support, whatever their concern might be.
“Children really need to be given the information and the confidence to be able to speak out and get help and support if they need it, no matter how big or small their worry is. That’s what the Schools Service is all about, and I am so proud to be able to say I am part of that.”
The ChildLine Schools Service has to date already visited 280 schools and spoken to 15,000 children across Scotland.