Since children have been back at school calls to the NSPCC helpline about concerns of sexual abuse about concerns of sexual abuse have gone up. The NSPCC made the decision to produce an online assembly so they can still be in schools. Primary schools can sign up, for free, to access the assemblies and resources via NSPCC Learning.
PRIMARY schools in Northern Ireland can now empower children virtually on how to speak out about abuse and neglect as the NSPCC reveals referrals from its helpline continue to rise since lockdown.
The charity today (Monday, October 12) launches an online version of its Speak Out. Stay Safe assemblies with guest hosts, TV presenters Ant and Dec.
New data shows that since children have gone back to school in September, the NSPCC helpline has dealt with 827 contacts across the UK about sexual abuse.
This was a 10% increase across the UK 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 75 referrals in September 2020, on a range of issues including sexual abuse, to agencies including police and local authorities in Northern Ireland in September – up from the monthly average since lockdown of 54.
The monthly average of referrals pre-lockdown was 53.
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 assemblies face-to-face, in more than 93% of all primary schools in Northern Ireland.
In the academic year 2019/20, the charity visited 170 schools in Northern Ireland and delivered workshops to more than 33,500 pupils before lockdown was imposed.
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).
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.”
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.
Karen Walker, School Service manager for Northern Ireland said: “Children have been stuck indoors for many months and at the NSPCC we know for some children home isn’t always a safe place. Many during lockdown will have faced heightened risks.
“As the pandemic continues we all need to be there to support children, and by equipping them with the knowledge and understanding they need to speak out is one vital way we can help ensure their safety.
“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.”
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 email@example.com. 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