With calls to the NSPCC about sexual abuse increasing since schools started back, the children’s charity has teamed up with Ant & Dec to make sure children know what to do and who to speak to if something is worrying or upsetting them.
The celebrity duo is hosting a new virtual version of the NSPCC’s Speak Out. Stay Safe assembly, which – before lockdown – the charity had delivered to millions of pupils.
NSPCC experts reported that the risk of abuse and neglect increased during lockdown and the charity has released new data which shows that since children have gone back to school in September, the NSPCC helpline has dealt with 827 contacts about sexual abuse.
This was a 10% increase when compared to the four-month period since lockdown (April to August), when the monthly average for this issue was 754 contacts.
The NSPCC Helpline made 420 referrals to agencies including police and local authorities in Yorkshire & Humberside in September, on a range of issues including sexual abuse – up from the monthly average since lockdown of 384. The monthly average of referrals pre-lockdown was 280.
The national lockdown left many children trapped indoors with their abusers for months on end, and the main issues the helpline heard about were physical and emotional abuse and neglect.
It is vital that children know what to do and who to speak to if something is happening in their life which is making them feel scared or anxious.
Before the pandemic the NSPCC delivered its assembly face-to-face, in more than 90% of all primary schools across the UK, and in 2019/20 the charity visited nearly 7,000 schools, and delivered workshops to almost 1.6million children before lockdown was imposed. In Yorkshire & Humberside that means the NSPCC Schools Service visited 373 schools and spoke to 84,857 children.
At this current time, NSPCC school volunteers can no longer deliver the assembly in person, so instead the organisation has made a 30-minute online Speak Out. Stay Safe assembly available to all primary schools in the UK.
In an accessible and age appropriate way, the assembly helps children understand how to recognise different forms of abuse, and how to speak out if they need to.
The NSPCC is also offering supporting teaching materials with plenty of engaging activities. The assembly and resources are also available in British Sign Language (BSL) and Welsh.
As well as this, it also focuses on some of the additional worries that children are experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hosts Ant & Dec, who’ve been supporting the NSPCC for many years said:
Ant said: “We’re thrilled to be involved with the online version of the NSPCC’s Speak Out. Stay Safe assembly and we’ve had great fun filming with Buddy, the NSPCC mascot.
“We know that the lockdown will have been a difficult time for some children and others may be struggling with being back at school.
Dec added: “This is why the NSPCC’s Speak Out. Stay Safe assembly is so important as it reminds children that no matter what may be worrying them, there is always someone who can help.
“It is a real privilege to be supporting the NSPCC with this online assembly and we want all children to remember that difficult times never have to be dealt with alone.”
The virtual assembly is also being backed by the Department for Education.
Karen Squillino, NSPCC Head of School Service said:
“I encourage all primary schools to sign up, so that we can help as many children as possible to recognise and report any worries they have.”
In all Speak Out. Stay Safe assemblies children are taught to speak out if they are worried, either to a trusted adult or Childline.
The assemblies help to reinforce key lessons about abuse and neglect that are compulsory for all primary schools.
To sign-up visit nspcc.org.uk/speakout
Adults concerned about a child can contact the NSPCC helpline seven days a week on 0808 800 5000, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Children can call Childline on 0800 11 11 from 7.30am to midnight from Monday to Friday or 9am to midnight on weekends. Or they can get in touch via www.childline.org.uk