Over the course of 2014 and for the first time children attending Primary Schools in the Gloucestershire area will be visited by volunteers from ChildLine to offer advice to help identify abuse.
It is thought that some younger boys and girls are suffering in silence and this is put down to a lack of guidance or education that would give them the tools to recognise abuse and to know what to do about it.
A Schools Service operated by Childline has been running for a number of years but in the course of 2014 it will be visiting Gloucestershire Schools.
The guidance will first be delivered in the course of Assemblies but then a few weeks later volunteers will return to give more personal guidance to smaller groups. This is designed to help the children involved understand the general issues and how to deal with them.
The sessions will be delivered by trained volunteers whose role will be to encourage children to recognise situations where they may need help and show them how they can get the support they need.
The charity has indicated that the feedback from schools in other parts of the country has been generally positive which is certainly encouraging. Commonly one of the central problems for a victim of abuse is finding the strength needed to come forward at all and anything that helps a victim come forward must be seen as a very important step.
One of the goals of this process is to help try and prevent abuse before it occurs. ChildLine developed this service after a review into the services provided by its telephone line. This suggested that many of the calls that raised concerns about abuse came from children over the age of 11. This raised the concern that younger children were simply not finding it possible to come forward. The service will be geared at children in Years 5 and 6, roughly this will mean that children between the ages of 9 and 11 will be given the guidance.
The scheme and indeed any others that offer similar guidance have to be seen as a positive step in the overarching effort to reduce the impact or instances of child abuse. Giving children the confidence to come forward is of course an important starting point in the process. However, it is essential that there are good and effective systems in place to respond to these problems when they arise. Confidence can soon be lost if proper steps are not taken.