Children need the power to be able to speak out

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Childhood should be a time of innocence, infinite possibilities, of feeling warm, loved and secure.

With Christmas on the way, that childhood innocence has special meaning as it combines with mounting excitement and eager anticipation of the big day.

Sadly, as we know only too well from news reports and criminal trials, many children live unhappy and frightened lives, their innocence stolen by those who would prey on them.

Loving parents worry about predators in our midst, and, even worse, the perils lurking online that threaten to corrupt that cherished childhood innocence.

So the NSPCC’s Speak Out, Stay Safe campaign is to be welcomed for its efforts to educate children about different forms of abuse and how they can protect themselves.

The NSPCC are experts, so the warnings are given in an age-appropriate way so that children do not become frightened or paranoid about the activities of strangers.

Instead, they are shown the effects of emotional, physical and sexual abuse in a way they can understand and interpret.

More importantly, it empowers them to speak out to somebody they trust if they are being treated in any way that makes them unhappy.

Six-year-old Poppy Bamborough seems to have fully grasped the message when it was delivered to pupils at Westover Primary School in Copnor.

She said: ‘It is very important to tell an adult if you are feeling sad. If you do not tell them, they can’t help you.’

It is a sad, but necessary fact of life that all children must learn that there are bad people out there.

We all want our children to be safe and happy. Learning that lesson can only help.