Speak Out Stay Safe

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:

The NSPCC’s Speak Out Stay Safe safeguarding programme is helping teachers to respond more effectively to children in need, an evaluation has reported.

It is also helping pupils aged five to 11 to learn about different forms of harm and abuse, especially neglect, and to know where they can seek help.

The Speak Out Stay Safe (SOSS) programme is designed by the NSPCC and delivered in UK schools by trained staff and volunteers. It aims to increase children’s understanding of different forms of harm and abuse and enable them to seek help from a trusted adult. The programme builds on the topics covered in statutory relationships education.

An evaluation involving 3,297 primary school pupils finds that both children and school staff benefited from the education it provided on different forms of harm.

The evaluation was led by the University of Central Lancashire in partnership with researchers at Bangor University, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Greenwich, and Queen’s University Belfast.

It reports that six months after the programme was delivered, children aged nine and 10 had improved their knowledge of different forms of harm and abuse, especially neglect. Children of this age were also more likely to be able to identify a trusted adult who they would tell about abuse or harm.

The study also found evidence that the programme succeeded in strengthening the confidence and skills that teachers need to respond effectively to children who ask for help with their experiences of abuse or harm.

Both younger and older children improved their knowledge of the Childline helpline number as a result of SOSS, while headteachers and safeguarding leads interviewed six months after the programme suggested that children felt more confident in speaking to a member of staff regarding concerns.

However, the report found less of an impact with children aged six and seven – although this could be because they only received a shorter version of the programme. Boys also showed less awareness than girls of the signs of abuse or harm.

Karen Squillino, NSPCC local services director, said: “Abuse is never a child’s fault and they have the right to be safe – this simple message is at the heart of Speak Out Stay Safe, and this report highlights the important impact that it has on the millions of children we have reached since the programme’s launch 10 years ago.”


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