Resilience in children is impacted by many issues. APPA Scotland’s app, “APPA”, is designed to capture the issues before they happen as it provides pointers and coaching to children to make the right choices and speak to adults when needed.
As schools across the UK close for the annual summer vacation and families go away to spend some quality “family time”, it is a sobering thought that adults continue to target vulnerable children and take advantage of them. Adults who are meant to have the best interests of children in their care abuse that position. Most recently, a 53-year-old teacher – yes a teacher – was convicted of having sex with two teenage pupils and jailed for 32 months. While there is a level of long term and secretive grooming in this type of child sex exploitation, there are obvious questions of how such people slip through the net in an environment of Disclosure checks. Being jailed and put on the Sex Offenders Register is too late for the vulnerable child whose life is adversely impacted and who will need a much more supportive environment to become more resilient.
Meanwhile, the anonymity afforded by the internet and social media has seen the rise of online sex abuse from predatory adults. The number of Scots adults targeting children with indecent texts or online communications – in other words grooming – has risen by 60% according to the National Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Children in Scotland (NSPCC Scotland). This is despite the introduction in 2010 of a law criminalising the sending of sexual messages to children.
The NSPCC Scotland have called for more to be done to protect children. Their belief is that the key lies in the provision of high quality, age-appropriate healthy relationships education across the curriculum. Giving children and young people the knowledge and skills to make healthy choices and stay safe.
Partly related to this is the call of The Family Rights Group (FRG), a London based charity which helps families involved with the care system, more children are being taken into care due to domestic violence perpetrated by teenage and young parents. The worrying issue is that children taken into care in such circumstances often struggle to succeed, are more likely to be isolated, out of work, in poverty and poor housing, and become parents at a young age themselves. Like the NSPCC Scotland, the FRG also calls for young people to receive education about “safe, healthy relationships” while also addressing domestic violence perpetrated by older parents, too.
The rights of children are much stronger and they are being offered greater protection against many types of abuse. The call from two family and children’s charities for “provision of high quality, age-appropriate healthy relationships education across the curriculum” and “for young people to receive education about safe, healthy relationships” is significant.
There is a clear need for the Government to take a lead on this but APPA Scotland’s app is a departure from the norm. APPA offers a child-centric approach using the unique and sophisticated digital tool to provide an ongoing assessment of the resilience of children. Through a “conversation” with Alex the avatar, children can answer a number of questions in their own time and in their own space – it’s a technology young people are familiar with. The validated set of questions in different modules begin to paint a picture of the young person’s “resilience” with the answers provided in the form of a Resilience Report against 11 Wellbeing Indicators:
- Parent/Child Connection
- Strong Relationships
- Powerful Identity
- Sense of Control
- Sense of Belonging
- Rights and Responsibilities
- Safety and Support
- Positive Thinking
- Physical Health
Already in Scotland, APPA is being trialled in one secondary school and two more will come on board in late August – in total, over 550 young persons will be using APPA. The outcomes in Scotland are based on 8 Wellbeing (SHANARRI) indicators which the Scottish Government wish to assess against:
This Autumn promises to bring a brighter prospect for the taking a small step for a more resilient generation.