Childline to visit every school in UK over abuse
on 16/09/2013 08:47:44
The scheme, called "Now I know", is centred around preventative action and seeking to help children before "terrible and lasting" damage is done, and is backed by the NSPCC.
The initiative aims for ChildLine to visit every primary school across the UK once every two years to talk to children about abuse, how to protect themselves and where to get help if they need it.
The organisation's new chief executive officer Peter Wanless said that people "do not want to tolerate child abuse", and that lessons were to be learned from Jimmy Savile's crimes.
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.
"Protection after the event, vital as it is, can't attack the root causes of the problem."
He added: "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 charity said on average, at least two children in every primary classroom will have suffered some form of abuse or neglect.
But ChildLine, a service provided by the NSPCC, said the majority of children who contact its helpline are aged over 11 and often talk about abuse that happened months or even years earlier.
The ChildLine Schools Service, which is delivered by trained volunteers and provided free to all primary schools across the UK, aims to help children aged between nine and 11 to understand abuse.
The service has so far visited 270,895 children in 3,956 schools.
A new study conducted for the charity by YouGov shows that only 36% of UK adults taking part in the survey think they would have been able to recognise abuse if it was happening to them at primary school and less than 38% say they would have known who to ask for help if they were being abused at the ages of nine to 11.
More than three quarters supported the idea of educating children aged nine to 11 in an age appropriate way about what abuse is and where to get help in a school environment.
Mr Wanless added: "Child abuse costs the UK billions of pounds every year, and that's without taking into account the human costs.
"As we know, the National Audit Office estimates that only 6% of public expenditure is focused on stopping problems from emerging in the first place.
"Through Now I Know we are responding to the vital shift 'upstream' to prevention with a unique UK-wide service that we know works and will enable us to empower younger children to prevent abuse from happening."