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ChildLine Schools Service

Claire Gilfillan recently attended a workshop run by the Childine Schools Service to learn more about the service and its work with primary school children.

Claire Gilfillan, Web Content Editor, GTC Scotland

The ChildLine Schools Service uses specially trained volunteers to talk to primary school children about abuse and the ways that they can get help. The team travels throughout Scotland and runs workshops to make children aware of the different types of abuse, to give them the skills to protect themselves and to show them where to go for help if they need it. In2Teaching recently attended one of these workshops at East Craigs Primary School in Edinburgh, where it had the chance to speak to one of the volunteers involved.

Volunteering

Anyone can choose to become a volunteer for the service and full training is provided. Potential volunteers are required to carry out an enhanced criminal record check to enable them to work with children in schools. The service works closely with the volunteers on a training and assessment programme, which requires them to be supervised by a member of staff before they are signed off as competent to undertake school visits. The volunteer that we spoke to is a retired primary school teacher, and she thinks that the experience she gained as a teacher has helped enormously with her new role. She is confident speaking to large groups of children, and has the skills to speak to them in a way that makes them understand and take in the seriousness of the subject, while having fun at the same time.

What do the children think?

The service has proved to be very beneficial to primary aged children; it enables them to talk about abuse in an informal environment with volunteers who are trained to deal with all questions and scenarios that may arise. Children who suffer abuse do not always recognise what is happening to them as abuse, so that’s why it’s so important that this service helps them to understand and recognise what is (and is not) normal behaviour, and this in turn will hopefully empower them to seek help if they need it. The sessions are specifically tailored to the age group to ensure that the topics are covered in a way that can be understood, without being graphic.

The workshop that we attended was very well received by the children; they all got involved with the games and were very well informed about the different types of abuse that children can suffer from. It was great to watch the children become actively involved and not be afraid or embarrassed to speak up about abuse. It’s a subject that can sometimes be overlooked by parents when talking to children about taking care of themselves, but it’s vitally important that children are aware of abuse and where to go to find help.

What’s next?

The ChildLine Schools Service is continuing to make its way around Scotland and hopes that by 2016/17 it will be able to reach every primary school in Scotland once every two years. As you can imagine, this involves a lot of organisation from the volunteers to get as many local authorities on board as possible.

The ChildLine Schools Service has one clear aim: to give children the knowledge to prevent abuse. Sadly, thousands of children continue to suffer abuse and neglect. The ChildLine Schools Service believes that, through these workshops and the education of young people, it has the potential to change this.

To find out more about the ChildLine Schools Service visit the NSPCC website at

http://www.nspcc.org.uk/