Children have the right to live free from the fear of harm and abuse. In settings and environments such as schools, which have had to learn the hard lessons of the past, this is already largely the case. But outside of school – in sports clubs, youth clubs and church settings – how can we ensure children are being kept safe at the same levels we have come to expect in other areas?
The final report from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) in England and Wales examined the responses of a broad range of institutions and organisations to allegations of child sexual abuse over a seven-year period. It acknowledged that “discussions about child abuse remain an uncomfortable subject for many” but that “those conversations are part of society’s collective duty to ensure young people are well informed and can navigate the risks of abusive and exploitative relationships”.
Children need to know that they can, and should, speak up when they feel worried, frightened or unsure about something. They should know who they can speak to and that they will be listened to and believed. These are important lessons for children to learn and all settings should have these as part of raise awareness around safeguarding.
The recommendations from the IICSA report conclude that “empowering children and young people to talk about [abuse] and opening up discussions between them and a broad range of adults, is essential”, but as an adult, knowing how to do this confidently with children can feel daunting. Where do you start? What do you include? How do you ensure you use language that children will understand?
Children’s workers have been asking for help to effectively communicate the messages in a suitable and easy-to-understand way and wanted a range of high-quality resources they could use to do this.
That’s why Thirtyone:eight created Roarry and his Ranger Club. Although some materials already exist to support children’s workers to teach children about speaking up, there is a gap in provision for resources that specifically address issues of harm and abuse in the context of church or a Christian faith context.
The Roarry resource pack comes with a leader’s pack and session plan that can be adapted for use with children aged four to nine and is flexible enough to suit a variety of settings and timings.
To help communicate this message of speaking up when something doesn’t feel right, we created the character of Roarry the Lion, a friendly and trusted guide, helping children to navigate the dangers and learn important skills such as how to raise their voice – their ‘roar’ – and speak up when things aren’t right. The lion is a familiar image to Christians, associated with wisdom and of God himself and personified by characters such as Aslan from CS Lewis’ Narnia books.
Drawing on stories from the Bible where children have spoken up or spoken out about issues and injustice, we wanted children to learn that the Bible shows us that God wants us to use the voice he has given us to speak up for ourselves and others.
We’ve been working with a focus group of children’s and youth workers to help us develop the resources and help us make them as easy to use as possible. The resource pack contains a mixture of games and activity ideas, craft and learning, and storytelling videos, all designed to make it easy to share the central message to children.
Roarry’s Rangers know how to keep safe by following the Ranger Code. The code gives children four key points to remember and take away. These are:
- When I feel worried or upset, I won’t keep it to myself.
- I will raise my roar and speak to someone I trust.
- I know which grown-ups I can go to for help.
- I will use my roar to speak up for others.
Throughout the session the raise your roar theme is repeated so that even the quietest child will be able to know it’s OK to roar.
To keep safe or to alert adults to issues that may need to be looked at, children need to know that they should speak out, but they will also need help to show who, within their own setting, are safe people they can speak to. This resource helps with that too.
Find out more at the Thirtyone:eight website.