Over 800 primary school pupils enrolled in abuse awareness course

  • Prevention programme: Rachel Dill, lead social worker at the Coalition for the Protection of Children

An abuse prevention class for children designed to change Bermuda’s culture has taken off in local schools.

The “Speak Up Be Safe” programme has been backed by parents and has also resulted in youngsters speaking up, according to Rachel Dill, the lead social worker for the Coalition for the Protection of Children.

The programme has spread to five other schools after its launch at Victor Scott Primary School less than two years ago.

Ms Dill said: “The goal is to have all of our children exposed to this information, so that it becomes a part of our culture.

“April is Child Abuse Prevention month, and the Subs classes boost awareness of issues ranging from bullying to sexual abuse to empower youngsters.

“Children are taught that it is adults’ responsibility to keep them safe — not theirs,” Ms Dill said.

Ms Dill added the programme has seen “some disclosure” from children, whose problems are followed up by school counsellors. The Subs scheme has been taken up at East End Primary, Prospect Primary, Purvis Primary and St George’s Preparatory School and now involves 672 pupils.

It is now at Francis Patton Primary School with an additional 144 students.

Ms Dill said Subs is “something of a sister programme” to the sexual abuse awareness training offered by the charity Saving Children and Revealing Secrets, although not directly affiliated.

The programme also covers cyberbullying and safe use of the internet.

Children are also trained to identify a “safe adult” to approach with questions or concerns. As the only person delivering the programme, Ms Dill said it “sometimes gets tough” and the coalition is seeking volunteers to join, preferably retired teachers.

HSBC is the sole donor backing the Subs programme, which is delivered with the Ministry of Education.