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Community / Don’t ignore signs something is wrong, new child protection campaign says

A NEW school holiday campaign is being launched this week urging everyone in Shetland to enjoy plenty of summer fun, but to be alert for signs that lockdown was anything but fun for some children.

The “For Kids’ Sake…” campaign encourages everyone to look out for clues that a child may have experienced harm, neglect or abuse during the pandemic.

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Shetland Public Protection Committee chair Tam Baillie said that while everyone is excited about having holiday fun over the summer holidays, some children will have had a very difficult time in recent months.

“Most children and young people in Shetland are really looking forward to days out and time with family and friends in the school break,” he said.

Tam Baillie in Lerwick on Wednesday. Photo: Peter Johnson/Shetland News.
Chairman of the Shetland Islands Child Protection Committee, Tam Baillie. Photo: Peter Johnson/Shetland News

“Sadly, some of those children will have been through a rough time during the pandemic. It’s only now that we are beginning to spend significant time with children we’ve seen very little of during lockdown months, and it’s only now that we might notice or sense that something is wrong.”

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The campaign stresses that everyone can play a part to keep children safe.

Paying attention and noticing signs that a child has been abused or neglected is critical, as is taking action to get some support for that child or children.

Baillie said it is essential to do something if someone is concerned about a child’s wellbeing over the school holidays.

“We’re simply asking people in Shetland to be alert for clues that harm has happened,” he continued.

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“Children can take a long time to say anything if they’ve experienced abuse or neglect, but you can listen carefully, look out for signs or pay attention to signals that there’s a problem.

“If your gut tells you something is wrong, it’s important not to ignore it. By raising your concerns you might help something worse from happening to a child you know.”

If someone sees or hears something which is not right, or they notice a big change in behaviour from a child, Shetland Public Protection Committee says it is always better to say something than do nothing.

“You shouldn’t ignore signs that something is wrong,” Bailie said. “Get help and support by contacting Shetland Islands Council’s social work department on 01595 744420, or 01595 695611 outside office hours. Or, if you think a child is in immediate danger, call the police right away.”

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