A schools workshop programme highlighting the impact of peer on peer abuse and empowering young people to speak out if they seeing something wrong is underway as part of the city’s Safe Derby campaign.

The ‘I Can I Will’ workshop has been developed by specialist child exploitation charity Safe and Sound who are a key partner in the Safe Derby campaign alongside Derby City Council, and Derby Community Action.

Year six pupils at a number of primary and junior schools in the city have so far taken part in the workshops including Gayton Junior School in Littleover and Firs Primary School in the city.

Safe and Sound chief executive Tracy Harrison explained: “The Safe Derby campaign has incorporated many different elements ranging from self defence classes and setting up a network of Safe Places in the city centre to promoting for importance of men being allies of women and improving CCTV and lighting in public places.

“All the partners equally recognised the importance of including a strong education element in the campaign and the ‘I Can I Will’ workshops have been welcomed by a number of schools in the city.

“It is important for children and young people to be aware from an early age that emotional bullying can be just as damaging as physical harm and the need to challenge inappropriate behaviours.

“Peer-on-peer or child on child abuse can be motivated by perceived differences including on the grounds of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or other differences.

“It can result in significant, long lasting and traumatic isolation, intimidation or violence for the victim as well as the perpetrator who themselves can be facing violence and disruption in their lives.

“These issues obviously need to be discussed in a way that is appropriate for children aged ten and 11 so the workshops very much focus on the positive elements of looking after each other, speaking up when you see something wrong and reporting incidents or concerns.”

Firs Primary School’s headteacher Mrs Paula Martin explained: “We were keen to welcome Safe and Sound back into school to deliver this workshop as part of our work to help year six pupils transition onto senior school and into their lives as young adults.

“The workshop covers important topics such as what is peer on peer abuse both in person and online and the devastating impact that this can have on children and young people.

“The work around being an active bystander – speaking up and safely intervening in a situation which you know is wrong – is particularly empowering to show children that they do have a voice.

“Talking about these important issues in the safe and familiar primary school setting is vital before the children move onto their senior school when everything can seem much more overwhelming and I hope that they remember these important messages as they continue their learning journeys.”

Gayton Junior School learning mentor Mrs Vicki Clarke continued: “The ‘I Can I Will’ workshops were very engaging and the Safe and Sound team guided the children through discussions that included how each of us have a responsibility to help create safe communities regardless of age, gender race or religion.

“We pride ourselves on being an inclusive school, teaching our children about respect and modelling the care we give without prejudice so to witness our children show those qualities in the workshops made us incredibly proud.”

Ten-year-old Charlie, a pupil at Gayton Junior School, said: “I think the workshop really helps to make you a better person.  You are showing that you care and won’t just stand around and let something bad happen.”

Fellow pupil Ciara (11) said: “The workshop made me think about me being more comfortable helping people young than I am and that this is OK.  I know that I should do something if I see something that is wrong.”

For more information about Safe Derby visit https://www.safeandsoundgroup.org.uk/safederby/ and follow on social media #SafeDerby.