West Midlands Police

 

Shadow Police Minister and Birmingham MP Jack Dromey joined West Midlands Police at a press day to celebrate the success of the Values Versus Violence programme which helps prevent primary school children from becoming victims of gangs and exploitation.DSC_0083

The Dot Com Children’s Foundation created the groundbreaking schools programme which has been taken up by 74 primary schools reaching 11,000 children in the city. Teachers and police report the
programme has already had dramatic effects. Sharon Evans, CEO of the Foundation hosted the event with St Clements Academy.  VIPs and reporters had the chance to see Rachel Turley, Dot Com Regional Co-Ordinator teach children about the early warning signs in our bodies which let us know we are feeling afraid or in danger.DSC_0019

Shadow police minister Jack Dromey, described the programme as a lifeline to help protect children from bullying, child abuse and exploitation. He said: “There is now a great national will to tackle the ob scenity of child sex exploitation and abuse. Key is helping children to help themselves by spotting signs they are at risk and giving them the confidence to come forward if they are being abused. The collaboration with WestMidlands Police and the Birmingham Community Safety Partnership is ground-breaking with 74 primary schools already DSC_0047engaged. Our determination is to build a safe City for children to grow up in, free from fear.”

Myles Roberts-Bingham, an 11 year old former pupil of St Clements Academy described to the press how the Values Versus Violence programme helped him turn his life around after the death of his father. He said he was angry and behaving badly at school and credits the programme with giving him the life skills to deal with his loss and this stopped him from being excluded from school.

You can see the news coverage of the event at:

http://www.itv.com/news/central/update/2015-06-04/primary-schoolchildren-taught-to-avoid-gang-violence-and-exploitation/ 

http://www.heart.co.uk/westmids/news/local/exploitation-workshops-at-birmingham-schools/#c4TjZr7UMYwvcPpF.97

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b05x70pv/midlands-today-04062015 (c 10.14)DSC_0091

Over the past 3 years Dot Com CF has trained over 500 teachers, 161 police officers and 940 school nurses in Birmingham to help deliver the programme.

Pupils are learning how to protect themselves against being exploited by adults or their peers, coping with domestic problems, and how to speak out about sensitive issues such as gang violence or child abuse. An early evaluation of the project after the first year showed the number of children wanting to stay away from gangs had doubled.

Such is the success, Birmingham Dot Com Co-ordinator Rachel Turley, is now going to take a national role using her experience to help other schools around Britain.

Police Community Support Officers work with the schools as part of the programme to meet children in a positive environment and provide practical information on keeping safe. The programme also helps schools deal with issues around bullying and coping with bereavement.

Chief Constable Chris Sims, of West Midlands Police said: “We are committed to protecting young people in our communities and this programme will help youngsters spot the signs of people trying to exploit them.

“We also know the damage that gangs can cause to the people living in our neighbourhoods and we hope we can give young people the confidence to come forward and talk to us about gangs who use violence.

“By working closely with more than 70 primary schools we can reach out to thousands of children across Birmingham and provide them with information and advice to keep them safe as they grow up in the city.”

Sergeant Paul Street, who is the lead officer of the programme for WMP, said: “This is all about helping children to protect themselves from those who might exploit them, not just children where there’s violence in the home, but also where children have been preyed on by those who seek out vulnerable youngsters.”

It is funded by the Birmingham Community Safety Partnership as part of its drive to tackle bullying and youth violence. However, it has also proved successful in teaching pupils how to be aware of child sex exploitation, grooming and domestic violence.

Councillor James McKay, Cabinet Member for Inclusion and Community Safety at Birmingham City Council, said: “I am pleased to see the success the ‘Values Vs Violence’ programme has achieved in Birmingham over the last three years, providing an invaluable resource for the city’s children and young people. Gang violence and sexual exploitation are priorities for Birmingham Community Safety Partnership and helping children to protect themselves is crucial in protecting them from harm in years to come. I look forward to hearing about further successes as the programme rolls out nationally.”

The project – first introduced into Birmingham in 2012 – has been highly successful. An extra 25 schools have taken up the programme across several or all year groups in April this year, bringing the total to 74 reaching 11,000 pupils. 

Rachel Turley, who worked up until recently as Pastoral Care Manager at St Clement’s C of E Academy, Birmingham, said: “Many of the schools where this has been introduced are in priority areas of the city where there are higher levels of deprivation, poverty and vulnerability for children.

“We’ve incorporated the journals and the programme into everyday life at the school, so pupils feel they always have somewhere to turn if they need to talk.

“If we believe a child is at risk from violence or child abuse, we have a structured plan in place about how to handle this. The lessons have also helped with anger issues among pupils, helped prevent bullying and improve behaviour.

“The programme has tackled all the hard to teach issues such as gangs, weapons and the law. Due to the programme being so interactive and hands-on the children became instantly engaged with the lessons, enabling them to express their views and opinions in a way that showed value and respect to others. It’s had a very positive impact on the behaviours and attitudes of the pupils.”

The Dot Com Children’s Foundation was founded by former news reader and child abuse survivor Sharon Evans and her husband Neil Evans, a former police officer.

Mrs Evans served on the government’s Independent Panel Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.

She said: “The police and safeguarding board in Birmingham is outstanding in providing this programme for schools because they have recognised punishment is only part of the issue.

“We have to address how we prevent the next generation of children from suffering the same abuse. I also think those head teachers who have been among the first to implement this resource are inspirational and have shown their commitment to giving children the skills to protect themselves from sexual abuse and violence.”

Dot Com would like to thank everyone who came to the press day and made such a fantastic day possible.

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