Talking to children about terrorism

Megan, who used to belong to one of my youth groups, has written a final year project for her journalism degree course  on how to talk to children about terrorism, particularly after Manchester.

If you have a spare 5 minutes feel free to have a look by clicking on the links below.

Meet Racheal Austin and her two daughters Erin, 10, and Isla, 8. Here, the three discuss the difficult topic of terrorism:

Megan also created a website – https://talkingaboutterrorism.wordpress.com with a number of other stories and articles, and an audio interview with a Mum on children practicing terrorism related drills.

 

 

Christmas video 21: The Nativity in Sand

The Bible Society produced this video of sand artist Gert van der Vijver retelling the story of the Nativity in sand.  This is a great thing to watch in an all-age service:

 

Best children’s Christmas story book

One of my favourite resources for the Christmas season is Jesus’ Christmas Party by Nicholas Allan.

Nicholas Allan writes and illustrates the nativity through the eyes of a grumpy inn keeper who is unexpectedly at the centre of Jesus’ birth.  The story follows him as he is woken up repeatedly by Mary and Joseph and guests visiting the newborn.

I first heard of the book when I was a child and it was used for a Sunday School drama to present the Christmas narrative to the whole church.  As a children’s and youth worker I’ve used it numerous times, be it with young pre-school children, older teenagers, or non-Christian adults.  The book is easy for people to follow and join in, and yet still allows for profounds truths to be taught.

It can be bought in a number of sizes – from A6 just to fit in the pocket and use to tell a large group of people, to a large A4 size which a class of children can crowd around and look at the pictures.

Christmas video 16: Shepherds, Wise Men and baby Jesus spoken word

Miriam Swaffield wrote these spoken word videos about the shepherds, the wise men and baby Jesus. They are brilliant, we’ve used them with our 11-14 year olds who’ve loved them.

Fusion have recorded them and made them available for FREE download here – you might want to use them in your services or youth events you’ve got planned.

My heart breaks for the burned-out teachers

This articulates many of the reasons I would never consider going into teaching.  
When I was applying for university in 2000 I looked carefully at doing a BEd degree and training to be a teacher.  I was put off by the way the government drive towards targets, overbearing amounts of paperwork, and stifling creativity in curriculum planning, means that teachers can often just end up as glorified paper shufflers, and so went on to study a Theology degree instead.  Several times since Head Teachers have tried to persuade me to move from youth work to teaching, but I could never do it.  A passion for education and developing children and young people is crushed by our system:

The atmosphere in the staff room will not be quite the same. There will be an empty space, for a little while, where she used to sit. Staff gatherings will not quite be the same. There will be a void, where her infectious giggling filled the room, at somebody’s silliness. The staff will bear the loss. But a loss it will be.

Thirty sets of parents and carers will feel different degrees of compassion towards the teacher, different degrees of disappointment. Some will, maybe, get their children to make a card and even write a comment in it themselves, to show love and support. But they will, all, feel anxious about what this means for their children. Some will feel disenchanted. The headteacher will have to divert some of her, already scare time and energy to meeting with them, to reassuring them. Life will carry on.

The headteacher will, in all likelihood, bear the added stress without breaking, because despite the enormous pressure she is under, she is resilient. But, added pressure it will be.

Thirty children have lost somebody really significant in their lives. Someone that accepted and valued them for being just as they are, someone that listened to them, someone that encouraged them, someone that empowered them. Some of the children have lost a role model, some an inspiration. Other teachers will valiantly and professionally step into the breach – probably from an agency – but they may only be able to stay for a few days, weeks, or months. Life will carry on.

The teacher’s coat will hang on the back of the classroom door for weeks, months, maybe even one, two, three, or more, years, as a reminder of the shell of the person left behind. The atmosphere in the class will not quite be the same. The relationships within the class will not quite be the same. The quality of learning will not quite be the same. The children will bear the loss because they are resilient. But, a loss it will be.

A family has lost a daughter, a sister, an auntie, a cousin. She won’t feel up to seeing anybody for a while. She will avoid family gatherings for months, or a year or more because it will be too much to see everyone in one place at one time. Life will carry on.

Christmas video 9: Mulberry Miracle

What does Christmas without Jesus look like?

Today in our consumeristic society we replace Jesus with a handbag, a smartphone, food, and so much more.  This is a great video that would work well at a carol service.

Safeguarding update from Hampshire Constabulary

Please be aware of the attached further update from Hampshire Constabulary

Dear Parents,

You may be aware of an explicit video involving two children which has been shared far and wide on social media and has been in the news this week.

Hampshire Constabulary has conducted a thorough investigation into these matters and a man has been charged with inciting a female aged 13-15 years to engage in sexual activity, making an indecent photograph of a child and distributing an indecent photograph of a child.

Both children, who are victims of serious crime, are being supported by specialist police officers and partner agencies. As these legal proceedings are ongoing, I would like to remind people not to speculate – especially on social media – as it may compromise the investigation.

The advice from the police remains the same, if children and young people receive this video on any social media platform, be it Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp or any other channel – they should delete it immediately and tell a trusted adult – a teacher or parent for example.

It’s really important that they understand that if they show this video to someone else or forward it on to other people, they could be committing a crime and we want to stop that happening. We have been clear that we do not want to criminalise children and that people won’t be in trouble if they’ve made a genuine mistake.

Sadly, we are seeing more offences where young people are being targeted by offenders who conceal their identities, and know where to go online to access and strike up false friendships with children and unfortunately, no one is immune to the dangers. Please discuss this with your children and encourage them to talk to you or another trusted adult if they have any worries or concerns. They can also call ChildLine if they really don’t feel comfortable talking to someone face-to-face.

If you have any concerns about the safety of your children online or would like to know more, there is further support and advice for children and parents available on the CEOP website http://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/

Detective Superintendent Rachel Farrell Hampshire Constabulary

Hampshire detectives charge man following investigation into online sexual offences

Hampshire Constabulary have released a statement about a local investigation into online sexual offences:

Officers from the child abuse investigation team at Hampshire Constabulary have charged a man in connection with an investigation into online sexual offences.

Daniel Norton, from Cheadle, in Stockport, has been charged with the following –

  • Three counts of inciting a female aged 13-15 years to engage in sexual activity
  • Three counts of making an indecent photograph of a child
  • One count of distributing an indecent photograph of a child

The 25-year-old is due to appear at Southampton Magistrates Court later today (Wednesday, December 6).

If you are concerned that a child you know has been a victim of online child sexual abuse, report directly to CEOP via the ClickCEOP reporting button –www.ceop.police.uk. If you would like to understand more about keeping children safe from online sexual abuse, please visit CEOP’s Thinkuknow website  – www.thinkuknow.co.uk.

Additional support for children who don’t feel able to talk to a trusted adult is available from ChildLine on 0800 1111.

Hampshire Safeguarding update for parents of 5-11 year olds

Following the recent news, Hampshire Safeguarding Children Board emailed this letter to all primary schools:

 

Following liaison with the police we are sending this email to all primary schools. We would very much appreciate your co-operation in circulating this message to parents and re-enforcing the importance of online safety.

With the Christmas holidays approaching and the prospect of children perhaps receiving digital media as a gift in some shape or form – tablets and gaming consoles, for example – we thought it would be an appropriate time to remind you about the responsible use of such devices.

Following, the recent news stories relating to the Police’s increasing concerns about child exploitation through social media ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-42224148 ), please do take the time to set up robust parental controls on devices and ensure that you set the passwords and codes so that only you know them.

There is some helpful advice relating to this on Hampshire County Council’s website:

https://www.hants.gov.uk/socialcareandhealth/childrenandfamilies/safeguardingchildren/ onlinesafety

If your children are likely to be using the internet, you may find it helpful for them to be aware and to have viewed this website: https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/5_7/

Helpful advice is also available from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) website:

https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/keeping-children-safe/online-safety/

Aside from the risk of exploitation and cyber bullying, it is unfortunate in this day and age that content exists on social media that would be inappropriate, and potentially harmful, for young children to view.

If you receive images or videos on Snapchat, Instagram, Whatsapp or via any other social media featuring people that are naked or are sexual in nature, these should be deleted immediately and reported to the Police on the non-emergency 101 telephone number. Many people are still unaware that showing or sharing such images or videos with others could mean they are committing a crime. However, if a genuine mistake is made, it would be treated as such by the Police.

Karen Nye
School Improvement Manager (Inclusion)

Hampshire County Council Children’s Services Department

 

Homophobic, biphobic and transphobic (HBT) bullying tackled in new guidance for Church schools

Guidance for the Church of England’s 4,700 schools published today aims to prevent pupils from having their self-worth diminished or their ability to achieve impeded by being bullied because of their perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity.

The report makes 12 recommendations for schools including ensuring schools’ Christian ethos statements offer “an inclusive vision for education” where “every child should be revered and respected as members of a community where all are known and loved by God. ”

Clear anti-bullying policies should include HBT behaviours and language, policies on how to report incidences should be accessible, staff trained on recognising bullying, curriculum and collective worship should support the vision and the wider church ensure that schools are responding well to the guidance.

In the foreword of the report, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said:

“All bullying, including homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying causes profound damage, leading to higher levels of mental health disorders, self-harm, depression and suicide.

“Central to Christian theology is the truth that every single one of us is made in the image of God. Every one of us is loved unconditionally by God.

“This guidance helps schools to offer the Christian message of love, joy and celebration of our humanity without exception or exclusion.”

The advice is an update on Valuing All God’s Children, guidance published in 2014 which tackled homophobic behaviour. This update covers a wider range of negative behaviours, incorporates the relevant legal and inspection frameworks and reflects the Church’s Vision for Education, whose four elements of wisdom, hope, community and dignity form the theological basis of the guidance.

 

Chief Education Officer for the Church of England, Nigel Genders, said:

“Providing an education to our 1 million children that will enable them to live life in all its fullness is a big responsibility.

“This practical and thoughtful advice is packed with templates and a comprehensive selection of resources for schools, teachers, families and young people. I hope that it will make a difference to our school communities and individual pupils too.”

The report acknowledges that it is likely that not all will agree on issues to do with human sexuality, marriage or gender identity. It goes on to say that:

“However, there needs to be a faithful and loving commitment to remain in relationship with the other and honour the dignity of their humanity without ‘back turning’, dismissing the other person, or claiming superiority.” 

The full report can be found here.

Children’s & youth work links

Links from the world of children’s and youth ministry: