Here’s a question… how do we teach young children about which secrets are good and those which are bad

How do we give young people the confidence to speak out about things that are troubling them, but not scare them?

These are questions that have been pondered by many professionals involved with safeguarding and, of course, parents. Too often children are groomed in an attempt by the perpetrator to stop them speaking out.

Award-winning children’s author, Christina Gabbitas, believes that as a society we are not bold enough in talking about this topic with children, and many adults do not know how to broach the subject in an appropriate manner. Christina’s passion for improving things in this area has led to a year of research, which highlighted that there were no books for four- to-seven-year-olds that addressed safeguarding issues in a manner appropriate to their understanding.

To tackle this, Christina wrote and published Share Some Secrets – the story has been carefully illustrated and worded to ensure that it is not only appropriate for the age range, but that it allows readers to use everyday language that they themselves would feel comfortable with. Furthermore, the story is written in rhyme, making it more engaging. The book received instant recognition, and was a finalist of the 2016 People’s Book Prize in the children’s category.

The NSPCC has endorsed the book and have placed it in their library, sending out 100 copies through their ‘Schools Service’. In a corporate partnership with Barnardo’s, a special edition was produced for their 150th anniversary and a percentage of the proceeds from the sale went directly to the charity. Further endorsements came from teachers, parents, children and safeguarding consultants, such as Ann Marie Christian, who is also an Associate Safeguarding Consultant at TheSchoolBus.

Christina’s passion is driven by getting her message across to as many children as possible. In 2016, Christina met students studying animation at Sheffield Hallam University, who helped work on the Share Some Secrets project, and a year after the initial meeting, the animation was launched at the university on 19 October 2017 – this important resource has been made available online for free.

In her quest to promote safeguarding to all children, Christina will be hosting a conference on 1 February 2018 at the Royal Armouries in Leeds. It is set to highlight the importance and effectiveness of utilising resources that are currently available in the field of safeguarding.

A variety of speakers relating to safeguarding will be at the event, including:

  • Jon Brown, Head of Development and Impact at the NSPCC
  • Dr Ruth Allen, CEO of the British Association of Social Workers
  • Jim Gamble QPM, set up CEOP for the government
  • David Niven, chair of the Tameside and Braford Safeguarding Children Boards
  • Andy Woodward, ex-professional footballer
  • Anne Fine, Children’s Laureate 2001-2003 (author of Mrs Doubtfire)
  • Peter Garsden, President of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers
  • Anne Marie Christian, safeguarding expert
  • And, Christina herself

The conference aims to help highlight, educate and inform public sector organisations, charities and private organisations.

With arrests and trials still happening in high-profile CSE scandals, it is imperative that we do not rest in the mission to ensure that children, as well a parents, carers, teachers and other professionals, have the tools they need to prevent child abuse happening.

Christina has kindly given Hub4Leaders a 25 percent discount to pass on to our community! Simply enter NY18 when booking a place at the conference:

Hub4Leaders will also be attending the event, so make sure you pop over to our stand to say hi and grab some safeguarding resources.

Click here to see the Share Some Secrets free safeguarding animation on YouTube.

Christina was also interviewed by BBC 5 Live, and the video has had over 128,000 views, click here to view the interview.

Share the movement on Twitter with the hashtag #ReachOutSpeakOut.

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