In the week that East Lothian schools sound the end of term bell, child protection committees across Scotland are encouraging the public across the whole country to be extra observant to help protect potentially vulnerable children when schools are out for summer.
Child Protection Committees Scotland, a nation-wide grouping of child protection professionals, hopes their Eyes Open campaign will raise awareness that members of the public can play an important role to keep children safe from harm in the holidays. The group believes that everyone is responsible for child welfare in Scotland.
East Lothian and Midlothian Public Protection Committee Chair Anne Neilson says:
"East Lothian children are about to be away from the usual school routine for a few weeks. For most local children this is a time of year filled with fun and free time, but for some families the summer holidays is a time of increased stress and pressure. In some cases, children may not be supervised or cared for adequately, others might experience neglect."
By taking an Eyes Open approach, the East Lothian and Midlothian Public Protection Committee hope that members of the public will take an active role when it comes to protecting children in the area, and take action if they're concerned for a child's wellbeing. Anne Neilson is clear that each and every one of us has a role to play in keeping our children and young people safe.
By keeping our eyes open and our other senses tuned in, we might spot the tell-tale signs that a child is at risk. If something doesn't seem quite right for a child, or a family of children, it's better to say something than do nothing.
Not only does the campaign support a public Eyes Open approach, it also encourages us to speak up instead of staying silent. Anyone who has concerns about a child can ask the child if they're okay, offer the family some support, or contact East Lothian Children's Services (Social Work) on 01875 824 090 (out-of-hours on 0800 731 6969), or call the Police on 101. If someone has immediate concern for anyone at risk of harm, they should always dial 999.
The East Lothian and Midlothian Public Protection Committee is a group of professionals who work together to improve the protection of children in East Lothian and Midlothian. People involved in our group come from diverse organisations including social work, health, education, the police, fire service and housing.