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Filling in the gaps on personal safety

THE introduction of personal safety programmes for primary and secondary pupils was a key recommendation of Lady Cosgrove's Scottish Office-led inquiry into sex offenders three years ago. The Inspectorate's advice in 1998 on child protection reinforced the message.

Yet a national adviser on child protection admits not all schools will have safety plans and curricular gaps remain in the middle years of primary and in secondary. Working groups have been set up to fill the gap.

Sex education and personal and social development sessions may touch on aspects of personal safety but schoolsneed separate programmes, Dr Susan Hamilton says. "We need an integrated, progressive programme that builds on skills that keep children safe. Research shows they are more effective when parents are involved."

Meanwhile, various agencies have stepped up their campaign for a children's commissioner to monitor young people's care. "We need something to ensure implementation of all the plans," Anne Houston, director of Childline Scotland, says.

Sam Galbraith, Minister for Children and Education, has asked the Parliament's education, culture and sport committee to investigate.

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