The closest I came to being abused as a child was when my teacher slapped my face extremely hard for writing numbers in the wrong place in my jotter. Ouch it was sore. She hit a lot of other pupils too and I also remember her washing kids mouths out with soap and water in the sink. She took it way too far. Although I sensed that it may have been wrong, I felt ashamed. I felt scared and I held back the stories from my parents. My Mum, a teacher of 30 odd years was so frustrated that I didn’t say to her when it was going on. By the time I told her, I think it was about 10 years later. It all came out.
I speak to many others, in confidence, who have experiemced some form of abuse as a child. Physical, sexual, emotional. The common issue is that, like me, they were too afraid to speak out. They were too young to understand. They blamed themselves. They felt guilty. They felt ashamed.
Of course, as we get older and wiser we have a better understanding between right and wrong.
As Bonnie was getting dressed for her swimming lesson this week, she said to me:
“Mummy, today at school I learned all about my private places and how I can get help if I feel scared”.
The NSPCC provide an invaluable support. They are currently going round our schools to talk through their Speak out and Stay safe programme. This is a nationwide programme for every primary-school-aged child in the UK and Channel Islands.
Sadly, the stats are insane – a child contacts their childline service every 25 seconds! As a parent, I feel an incredible responsibility. I know what it feels like to be crippled with fear at such a tender and innocent age.
I found a useful article with 10 tips to teach our kids to prevent child abuse. Often we think it will never happen to us. But the stats show that sadly it could. So let’s work together to talk openly about issues which are sadly a very normal part of life. By being prepared, and knowing what help is available, we can make a real difference to a child’s safety and wellbeing.
Thank you to the NSPCC for all the incredible work that they do.