So far, the charity’s Speak Out. Stay Safe programme has reached more than 2,600 children and visited 30 out of 57 primary schools across the Island. The service is delivered by specially trained volunteers but there are currently none on the Island and it is increasingly difficult to expand on the number of schools visited.
On Thursday the programme was delivered to KS1 pupils at Nine Acres Primary School in Newport. It is one of the first schools on the Island where the service has been delivered to children as young as 5. Up until April this year the service was originally delivered to 9-11 years-olds.
To help reach more children on the Isle of Wight, the charity is looking to recruit people from all walks of life to deliver the programme, which aims to reach a generation of children by visiting every primary school every two years.
With the help of mascot Buddy, volunteers provide free child-friendly, interactive assemblies for children aged 4-11 plus a one hour classroom workshop for children in Years 5 and 6.
By the end of the visit the children will:
- 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.
The programme launched in 2011 after research showed 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 aim is to educate a generation of children about abuse in all its forms, including bullying, sexual abuse, neglect and domestic abuse, potentially before abuse starts.
Michelle Barry, who runs the programme on the Isle of Wight, said:
“We know that, on average, at least two children in every primary school classroom will have experienced some form of abuse or neglect – a truly shocking statistic.
“But just imagine if we could give these children the knowledge to prevent, the confidence to speak out 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.”