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Bid to eradicate child abuse

I read with interest Sarah Nelson's article on child abuse and the responsibility schools have in preventing it (20 January). The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) launched the ChildLine School Service in January 2011 to address precisely this issue.

The ChildLine Schools Service has already been fully delivered in 403 schools across the UK and has had direct contact with 28,427 children.

In Scotland alone, it has been delivered to 73 schools, 3,499 pupils across nine local authorities. There have been 13 child-welfare concerns identified and three serious child-protection concerns. We are currently in discussions with another 15 local authorities in Scotland about receiving the service and will make contact with the remaining eight over the coming year.

The service focuses on primary school children, in particular 7- to 11- year-olds. The aim is to visit every primary in the UK at least every two years to ensure children have an understanding of abuse in all its forms and an ability to recognise the signs of abuse. The service advises children how they can protect themselves from all forms of abuse and raises their awareness of how and where to get help (including ChildLine).

Delivery of the service involves two stages of working with children. The first stage is an assembly which covers definitions of all forms of abuse, places to go for help and an introduction to ChildLine.

The second stage, approximately one to two weeks later, is an interactive classroom-based workshop. This presents an opportunity to work more closely with the children and reinforce the messages given in the assembly.

Headteachers are briefed on the content of the delivery and teachers are present so that they can continue reinforcing the safeguarding messages with the children.

Although the majority of children who contact ChildLine are over 11 years old, we know that the majority of children on the child-protection register are under the age of 11. It is therefore vital that we reach children earlier so that we can prevent abuse and intervene to minimise its devastating long-term effects.

By 2016, we aim to visit every primary school in the UK at least once every two years, in order to establish a societal change that will bring about a long-term reduction in child cruelty.

Further information on the ChildLine Schools Service can be found at www.nspcc.org.uk.

Grania Hyde-Smith, communications manager for ChildLine and NSPCC services for families and children.

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