Child safety focus of forum

SVEN HERSELMAN
Last updated 07:03 21/02/2013

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The Safeguarding Children and Young People educational seminar, hailed as hugely effective and forward thinking, will be presented for the first time in Marlborough next Wednesday, February 27.

Elim Church in Blenheim will host the afternoon seminar, which has been successfully run in Nelson for 14 months with some 1000 people attending so far.

"We are really very excited about this," said Marlborough Police family violence co-ordinator, Constable Bridget Taylor.

"We went over in May to one of the presentations and found it to be very motivating and empowering."

She and Child, Youth and Family (CYF) differential response co-ordinator, Bronwyn Hutcheson, attended together and after hearing what was being presented decided that the seminar had to come to Marlborough.

"We really felt empowered about what to do rather than just horrified by all the statistics," said Bronwyn.

She and Bridget explained that the seminar is based on a model that originated in the UK after the Victoria Climbié case that rocked the country and resulted in major child protection policy changes in England.

The main focus of the seminar, run by the Safeguarding Children Initiative, is to change from being reactive to proactive about child protection.

"There will always be the need to be able to react to cases of children and young people being victimised but if we can have a strong proactive approach it will definitely help stop these things from happening in the first place," said Bridget. "We are so much more effective working together."

She and Bronwyn said that the Marlborough community of child-orientated organisations is currently strong and well-connected but can still benefit hugely from the seminar.

"It networks everyone up in a really positive way and gives you the tools to go out and make a difference," said Bronwyn. According to her, CYF deal with around 1200 reports of concern a year across Marlborough.

The seminar features experts in various fields such as nursing, paediatrics, general practice, police and internet health and safety. Anyone who works with children from babies to teenagers, be it in health, education, faith or recreation is encouraged to attend.

"It covers a whole range of information including the Privacy Act and child protection policies. The speakers are very knowledgeable," added Bronwyn. Attendance is free of charge, with koha/donations welcome and snacks provided.

"It's all about building on our strong Marlborough community, because if a community is strong then its people care about each other and they look out for one another. Strong communities mean less crime, safer streets, less domestic violence and children that are safe from abuse and harm," said Bridget.

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The event is sponsored by the Marlborough Violence Intervention Project, Rural Education Activities Programme Marlborough and BNZ. Registration for the seminar by Tuesday, February 26 through marlbvip@gmial.com - send name and contact details.

- The Marlborough Express

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