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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 21 May 2007

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NSPCC '100 day challenge' for Gordon Brown

THE NSPCC is urging Gordon Brown to use his first 100 days as Prime Minister to help tackle violence against children. The charity says an urgent action plan is needed to combat bullying and provide counselling and therapy for all abused children.  Over a 100 day period, it is estimated that 205,000 children will witness domestic violence. Last year, ChildLine counsellors spoke to nearly 50,000 children who had been affected by bullying or physical abuse. 1 in 6 children will be sexually abused before their 16th birthday.

Dame Mary Marsh, director and chief executive of the NSPCC, says:- "There couldn't be a better way for Gordon Brown to start his new premiership than by relieving the misery of children in desperate need of help.  1 in 3 children who call ChildLine tell us they are suffering violence and abuse, sometimes on a daily basis. Bullying has been the main reason why young people call ChildLine for 10 years. They are only the ones we hear from. There are many more who don't speak out and don't know how to protect themselves."

Further insight into violence has come from children in a new NSPCC survey carried out by GfK NOP. 1172 boys and girls aged 11 to 16 were asked about violence in their lives. 81% said violence is 'a major problem for young people nowadays', with 2 in 5 seeing it as simply 'part of growing up'.  35% of the young people say they find it difficult to talk to anyone about violence. 44% say that there is enough support and help for them to deal with violence and 28% want specialist anti-bullying counsellors and school lessons on how to stay safe.

Dame Mary Marsh says:- "Although a snapshot, this survey shows how children themselves feel that violence invades their lives at school, home and on the streets, sometimes daily. Children should not have to accept violence as part of growing up. Much of it could be stopped if governments across the UK took action."

The survey found:-

42% of children said they had been hit, punched or kicked - and 9% attacked with a weapon or object - at school. 75% said they had been bullied at school and 22% said they are scared of violence directed against them in school.

1 in 4 children said they had witnessed domestic violence between adult family members. Around half of the most recent incidents involved physical assaults and 13% the use of an object or weapon. 32% of young people believed that those responsible for the abuse last time had been drinking alcohol or taking drugs.

16% children said they had been hit, punched or kicked - and 7% attacked with a weapon or object - on the streets. Many more - 59% - had witnessed violence or bullying between young people on the streets. 38% said they had been 'really scared' of violence towards them by young people they didn't know.

1 in 6 young people said they took no action the last time they saw a violent or abusive incident on the street or at school, because they did not know what to do. 3 in 5 said they were scared weapons would be used against them or their friends and only 1 in 4 believe young people know how to protect themselves. 

Last year over 1 million children contacted the NSPCC after it encouraged them to speak out sexual abuse. This year's Don't Hide It initiative, aimed at 11 to 16 year olds, is urging children to speak out on all forms of abuse. The campaign is currently running on TV, radio and in viral ads and teen magazines.  Don't Hide It is part of the NSPCC's FULL STOP campaign to end cruelty to children. Children can find help, advice and support at and by phoning ChildLine on 0800 1111.

Do you want to borrow my toothbrush? You could catch ANYTHING…

MOST Britons would be happy to lend their toothbrush to somebody else according to a new UK-wide dental survey.  The National Smile Month Survey, commissioned by the British Dental Health Foundation in association with Healthplan provider HSA, found that over 60% of people would be willing to let their partners, children, friends and even celebrities borrow their toothbrush.  Interestingly, men were far more protective of their brushes than women with almost half saying they wouldn’t lend their brush to anyone, as opposed to only a 3rd of women.

Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the Foundation, commented:- “Sharing a toothbrush leaves people susceptible to all sorts of oral and general health problems.  There are many hundreds of different bacteria and viruses in our mouths and people sharing a toothbrush could be passing these on to others. Whilst this might be something relatively harmless, such as a common cold or cold sore, if the person you are sharing with is infected with hepatitis B or HIV these could also be passed on via the toothbrush with life threatening consequences.  People need to take good care of their toothbrush, changing it once every 3 months, and not letting anyone else borrow it.  You should brush twice-a-day with fluoride toothpaste, cut down how often you have sugary foods and drinks and visit the dentist regularly as often as they recommend for a good oral healthcare routine.”

The survey was commissioned to mark the 31st National Smile Month. The campaign will run until June 12 under the tagline Two Minutes Twice a Day.

“It’s worrying that so many people either aren’t aware, or don’t care, that by sharing a toothbrush they could be running the risk of catching a serious infection. Especially those in London, who are most likely to share their brush with their favourite celebrity!  “It’s important for individuals and families to look after their oral health and we would encourage regular trips to the dentist. And, if you’re are worried about the cost, a range of funding options are available.” said Abby Bowman from HSA.


CLAIMS by the Liberal Democrats that Merseyside Police spent almost 1.8 million hours filling in paperwork last year have been disputed by one of their own Euro-MPs.   Official figures cited by the party suggest that police officers spend around a fifth of their time on paperwork. For a force the size of Merseyside Police this is the equivalent of 1,764,105 million hours of form filling.

But Chris Davies says that police officers tell him that the situation is in fact much, much worse.  "Forget the figures and listen to the people who are actually filling in the forms.  Police officers tell me that as much as 80% of their time can be spent completing the mountains of paperwork. It's a scandalous waste of time and public resources, and it leaves police officers feeling demotivated and cynical."

Accurate records are essential if convictions are to be secured, says the MEP, but he has hit out at the duplication of forms that could be replaced by modern technology.  Liberal Democrats nationally are calling for a full assessment of how the use of IT systems, voice recognition technology and hand-held equipment could free police time from form-filling.  They are also calling for civilian staff to provide greater clerical support to relieve officers from paperwork.

Mr Davies commented:- "Officers and the public share one very strong view in common - both want the police to be spending more time doing the work for which they are trained and less time stuck in the office."

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