A few weeks ago we received rather an informal letter from our local primary school, asking whether we would be interested in attending a session highlighting child sex abuse. I assumed it would be one of the teachers briefly outlining how to keep our children safe, both in real life and online and the security measures taken by the school when our children accessed the internet during lessons.
So one cold, wet, dark evening last week I headed back to school, wanting to support the effort but fully expecting to not really gain a great deal of information. And how wrong I was.
The ‘Parent Protect’ session was run by Stop It Now! Incase you haven’t heard of Stop It Now! they are a UK based child sexual abuse prevention campaign, funded by the Welsh government and the Lucy Faithfull Foundation and can be found over at http://www.stopitnow.org.uk/ The programme believes that children can be protected once responsible adults are aware of how sexual abuse is perpetrated and they work to empower responsible adults to feel confident in spotting the signs of sexual abuse and where to go to report their concerns.
To tell you that you were about to sit through a two hour session might sound daunting, but Gill assured us that there would be nothing graphic, nothing personal and that we could leave at any time. We learnt about abuser behaviour, how and why people sexually abuse children and how to identify harmful behaviours. Gill explained the four pre-conditions to abuse and were played a short audio clip of an abuser talking about his thought process (again we were assured it would not be graphic). We then had a quick coffee break, which gave us the opportunity to digest all the information and look through the available books before restarting to talk about how sex offenders are managed within the community and positive actions we could take to prevent abuse. It was very factual and not at all how I imagined; we were encouraged to ask questions and get involved and there were even some light hearted moments.
As we left we were given some fantastic handouts and even a certificate of attendance. I thoroughly enjoyed the evening and would like to go on and attend the course that is available. I would definitely recommend the initial session to any parent, carer or teacher.
Many thanks Gill!