Monmouthshire has recently focussed on the welfare of the county’s youngsters as it marked Anti-Bullying Week and National Safeguarding Week – both running from 13th November.

 Goytre Fawr Primary School worked all week on anti-bullying activities with every class holding a special discussion and completing an activity featuring an anti-bullying message.  Year Five pupils wrote poems from the points of view of the bully, the bullied and the bystander, Year Six created an infographic using statistics about bullying and the youngest children considered what makes a good friend and read stories about friendship.  Acting Headteacher Lisa Wilkinson said: “Anti-bullying is something we take very seriously both during this week and throughout the year.”

 St. Mary’s R.C. Primary School in Chepstow marked Anti-Bullying Week with five days of activities to make pupils more aware of the challenges of bullying and the importance of respecting each other.

 On Wednesday Key Stage 2 pupils celebrated Respect Day and created expressive art and prose to explore the themes of human rights, personal respect and equality.  Meanwhile, the school’s foundation phase classes made crafted goods on the subjects of love and respect.  These will be offered for sale to parents and the wider community, with proceeds passed to charitable good causes.  The week’s activities culminated in a special Friendship Assembly, organised by the school council and assisted by members of staff as well as the governing body.

 The council’s licensing team has worked in partnership with police for a number of years to promote safeguarding by providing mandatory training to licensed taxi drivers to look for signs of child exploitation.  Criminals often use taxis to transport children for illegal activity.  Training is also offered to managers of the county’s pubs and restaurants and the enthusiastic response has been welcomed by the council.

 Licensing staff have collaborated this week with the Gwent Police launch of Operation Makesafe – an initiative focused on ensuring that people working in the business sector are aware of the early warning signs of child sexual exploitation.  Licensing staff have distributed publicity material including posters, letters to firms and branded air fresheners for taxis to promote the message that child sexual exploitation equates to serious abuse.

 The county’s leisure centres have also participated in promoting Operation Makesafe by displaying leaflets and posters while centre managers as well as school governors have undergone safeguarding training.

 Monmouth’s Drybridge Centre was the venue during the week for Monmouthshire’s Local Safeguarding Network Practitioner Forum, a body that links safeguarding professionals from various agencies.    On the agenda was the launch of Operation Makesafe and an introduction to safeguarding in probation and youth offending services.

 Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for safeguarding, Cllr Penny Jones commented: “The cumulative impact of bullying can affect the mental health and well-being of both children and adults alike so that is why this week we’re highlighting its consequences and how we can minimise its effect.  Monmouthshire has taken great steps in recent years to prioritise safeguarding and as Gwent Police launch Operation Makesafe we’re delighted to work with them and other agencies to rid the community of the scourge of child sexual exploitation.”

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