A local child protection agency is urging everyone across the region to watch out during the school holidays for children who could be at risk.
That’s the message from Professor Paul Martin, the new independent chairman of the South Ayrshire Child Protection Committee.
As schools, young people and families prepare for the end of term this week, South Ayrshire is joining other committees across Scotland to encourage the public to be extra observant and do their bit to help protect potentially vulnerable children while schools are off for the summer.
The Eyes Open campaign from Child Protection Committees (CPC) Scotland – a nationwide grouping of child protection professionals – aims to raise awareness of the important part the public can play in keeping children safe from harm, one of the key messages being that everyone is responsible for child welfare.
Professor Martin said: “By keeping our eyes open and our other senses tuned in, we might spot the tell-tale signs that a child is at risk.
“These signs include seeing children wandering about at all times of day and night, children who are very dirty or unfed, unsupervised children going into ‘party’ flats or whose parents are drunk in charge of them.
“However, spotting the signs isn’t enough. If something doesn’t seem quite right for a child, or a family of children, it’s better to say something than do nothing – you could make a real difference for a child.”
Anne Houston, chairwoman of CPC Scotland, also said that holidays can be more stressful for some families than others.
She continued: “For most local children, this is a time of year filled with fun and free time. However, for some families the summer holidays are a time of increased stress and pressure. In some cases, children are not supervised or cared for adequately, while others might even experience serious neglect.”
By taking an Eyes Open approach, South Ayrshire’s committee hopes that members of the public will take action if they are concerned for a child’s well-being.
Anyone with concerns about a child or children can, offer the family some support, contact Child Protection Services on 01292 267675 or call 0800 328 7758 if out of hours. If the child is at immediate risk, call 999. Further information is available at www.south-ayrshire.gov.uk/childprotection.