A NEW campaign is aiming to give youngsters suffering at the hands of abusers the confidence to speak out.
‘Now I Know’ has been launched by children’s charity the NSPCC in the classrooms of South Tyneside to raise awareness and get people talking about abuse.
Trained volunteers from the charity’s ChildLine Schools Service have already spoken to 715 children in 11 schools across the borough on different forms of abuse, how to identify it, and where to seek help.
The sessions, delivered free, have been designed for youngsters aged from nine to 11 after research by the charity revealed at least two children in every primary classroom will have suffered some form of abuse or neglect. Research also showed the majority who seek help from ChildLine are over 11, and talk about abuse that happened months or even years earlier.
Over the coming months, the charity hopes to reach out to primary schools yet to be visited to give them the chance to give pupils the knowledge they need to help protect themselves.
NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said: “Protection after the event, vital as it is, can’t attack the root causes of the problem.
“Like us, many professionals and organisations are developing new thinking on prevention, and the future tide of child abuse can not be turned without this.
“By helping children understand and identify abuse in an age-appropriate way, we can encourage them to speak out earlier, and protect themselves and others from the devastating effects of abuse.” Mr Wanless added: “We want children to be able to say ‘Now I know’ and not ‘I wish I had known’.
“We also want everyone to play their part by looking out for children, and reinforcing the messages about speaking up.”
The sessions build on the charity’s other services, which focus on preventative work with adults, so the risks of abuse are removed or acted upon more quickly.
Mr Wanless said: “People in this country do not want to tolerate child abuse. We no longer need to convince them of the suffering it leads to, or the costs to future lives.
“Jimmy Savile’s crimes are one shocking illustration of the consequences when people do not speak up and are not heard, for whatever reason. But we must now inspire everyone to believe that such horrors can be prevented and that they can help.”
To support the campaign or for more information, visit www.nowiknow.org.uk