Building Resilience in our Children

By on 03/04/2014 in News

Stephen Rimmer, the regional lead for preventing violence against vulnerable people, has today called on teachers and education professionals across the West Midlands to work together to fight abuse, exploitation and bullying, and to challenge those schools that need to do more.
In a speech to a schools' summit called Building Resilience in our Children Against Exploitation and Abuse, he said this is the start of a process of collective dialogue and leadership across West Midlands.
He told the conference the following:
“I want to reinforce the central importance of schools in safeguarding and building resilience amongst our children. This is not about 'competing' subjects but about building in core values, knowledge and skills into the heart of school activity, life and culture.
“This is complementary to, rather than diverting from, delivery of good academic standards. Ofsted has said: 'Schools are looking after children for two thirds of their waking day, it is crucial you can demonstrate your staff are focused on behaviour and safety, it is everybody’s business. I will find it very difficult indeed to view any school as good if it doesn’t do safeguarding properly.'
“Some of the facts are startling:
“An estimated 63,000 children have been sexually abused in the West Midlands, though not all report it.
“Nationally, the Office of the Children's Commissioner found 16,500 children currently at risk of child sexual abuse (CSE), and 2,409 confirmed victims in 2012. In a large NSPCC study on teenage relationships, 25% teenage girls had been hit, 75% had experienced emotional abuse and 33% sexual abuse.
“Other national research (of 16-20 yr olds) found that 27% of girls thought it is acceptable for a boy to expect sex if she'd been flirting, and 42% of girls had been pressured to have sex.
“One in four women will experience domestic violence, many of these won’t report it, and domestic violence accounts for 31% of all violent offences the West Midlands.
“There is great work and leadership going on right now in schools, but it needs to be more consistent across the region. It is completely unacceptable for some schools to in effect opt out  of working collaboratively on safeguarding. There are no 'risk free' environments for our children – the schools with a problem are those which say there is no problem.
“I acknowledge it’s not all about schools and young people. It is really important that parents and communities are involved, supported by agencies, political leaders and the media. A USwitch parents' poll in March 2014 found that 3 million families in the UK have found their children looking at violent, sexually explicit, upsetting or inappropriate content on the internet. Almost a fifth of parents have found their children looking at violent or sexually explicit material online.
“But school is where our sense of vulnerability and violence, of authority and abuse of power, of exploitation and self-esteem, of right and wrong, really crystallise for the next generation.
“I hope today can be a 'call to arms' that has a massive ripple effect, and one that will be sustained over the months to come.  You can be assured I am taking this challenge to the police, social services, health and other public bodies – and working directly with communities themselves.”


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