Everyone in South Ayrshire should keep their Eyes Open for children who could be at risk during the school holidays.
That's the message from the new independent Chair of the South Ayrshire Child Protection Committee, Professor Paul Martin CBE.
As schools, young people and families gear up for the end of term from next Friday (29 June), South Ayrshire is joining Child Protection Committees across Scotland to encourage members of the public to be extra observant and do their bit to help protect potentially vulnerable children while schools are out for the summer.
The Eyes Open campaign from Child Protection Committees (CPC) Scotland – a nationwide grouping of child protection professionals – aims to raise awareness that members of the public can play an important role to keep children safe from harm in the holidays. One of the key messages is that everyone is responsible for child welfare in Scotland.
CPCScotland Chair Anne Houston said: "Children are about to be away from the usual school routine for a few weeks. 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 Child Protection Committee hopes that members of the public will take a more active, watchful role when it comes to protecting children in the area, and take action if they're concerned for a child's wellbeing.
Paul Martin is clear that each and every one of us has a role to play in keeping our youngsters safe: "It's everyone's responsibility to protect children and 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."
Anyone who has concerns about a child or children can ask the child if they're okay, offer the family some support, or 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.
Visit the child protection pages of our website for further information.