CHARITY SPEAK OUT STAY SAFE WITH nspcc Over 40,000 children across the South East of England have learnt to stay safe from abuse thanks to leading children’s charity, the NSPCC. They have been learning about abuse in all its forms, how to stay safe, and who to go to for help should they ever need it. With help from Buddy the ChildLine mascot making visits to local schools, the Speak Out, Stay Safe campaign delivers essential safeguarding messages in a lively, interactive and memorable way. By the end of Buddy’s visit, children have had fun, feel empowered, and can speak out and stay safe. Sarah Walker, area coordinator for the programme in Kent and Medway, explained: “We know that at least two children in every primary school classroom will have experienced some form of abuse or neglect – a truly shocking statistic.” Amanda Rocca, area coordinator for the programme in Sussex, added: “But just imagine if we could give these children the knowledge to prevent, the confidence to speak about, and the courage to seek help if they need it. By visiting every school every two years we could prevent children from experiencing abuse, one generation at a time.” The service launched in 2011 after research showed that the majority of children who contact ChildLine are over 11 years of age. Many said that the abuse had begun years before they picked up the phone. The programme is aiming to reach a generation of children to inform them about abuse, potentially before it starts. And in April 2016, the NSPCC’s Speak Out Stay Safe campaign will see the biggest national launch of its kind, as the programme will roll out nationwide to reach children as young as 5 in an effort to protect larger numbers of youngsters from abuse and neglect. The ultimate aim is to educate a generation of children about abuse, including bullying, sexual abuse, neglect, and domestic abuse. It is important – it’s essential – that children understand what abuse is, and that they recognise it so that they really can speak out and stay safe. The programme itself is delivered by trained volunteers through a special school assembly and an interactive workshop. All sessions are very carefully tailored to suit the age of the children so that the message can be delivered without frightening the very youngest, and without ‘speaking down’ to older children who might be turned off if the message was given to them in the wrong way. Speak Out Stay Safe is setting itself an ambitious target – to bring the programme to every primary school in the country every two years, reaching 1.8 million children. But it is such an important message that there is no option other than to simply go for it. Each child must be protected. 137 How is the service delivered? Speak Out Stay Safe is delivered by specially trained NSPCC staff and volunteers. It consists of assembly presentations for both infants and juniors followed by a one-hour classroom workshop for children in years 5 and 6. All sessions are delivered with the help of Buddy, the ChildLine mascot. By the end of the workshops, all children will be able to: • understand abuse in all its forms and recognise the signs of abuse • know how to protect themselves from all forms of abuse • know how to get help, and the sources of help available to them, including ChildLine So far, the service has been to more than 470 schools in Kent and Sussex, but the charity wants more schools to sign up. This is completely free of charge, and could make all the difference when it comes to an abused child. Schools also have the option of supporting this essential work by taking part in fun sponsored events, and are provided with engaging and entertaining ways to take part. Children really enjoy supporting Buddy to visit even more schools!