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Championing Child Safety

Is yours a thankless task? I’d guess it’s not as you’d not be doing it if it was. And I’d guess there are plenty good moments of positive feedback from mums and carers. But let’s work on the principle that you can never have enough positive feedback. We’re keen to hear from outstanding workers who go just that bit further and feature some of their professional tips and experiences in Bitrex Bites.

First up to be interviewed is Debbie Scutt who has brought her imagination and energy to raising awareness about hazards in the home through promoting over 1000 Bitrex Taste Tests during Child Safety Week 2014 across Lincolnshire. 

What’s your typical day – if that’s not a contradiction in terms?

A typical day for me would either be sitting in the office working on emails, or at meetings on various Child Health topics ranging from Breastfeeding, Childhood Obesity, Healthy Schools or working on the RoSPA Child Safety in the Home Pilot.

Is it tricky to engage parents in child safety? How do you encourage them to interact?

In some cases it can be very difficult to interact with parents as some parents can see it as trying to tell them how to look after their children, when this isn’t the case. We simply try to point out the dangers and accidents that are currently happening to children and try to explain that we are looking for them to work with us to protect the children. I always use the Bitrex Taste Test to interact with all parents. This is a great way of catching their attention, certainly the ones who think that nothing will scare them, nothing will bother them, and no taste will make them squirm! I see this as a challenge and make it into a game which then invites other parents to come and see what is happening...so far nobody has ever refused to do the test...

What two things do wish you’d known when you started out?

How bad it tasted before doing it myself!

How did you manage to engage so many people to take the Bitrex Taste test?

I have a very persuasive manner, if they try to say no, I do not give them the chance, I suppose I kind of tell people they are taking part rather than ask them in some cases. In fact thinking back I don’t even think I tell them it tastes bad until it touches the tongue...ooops

How did you organise so many events?

I usually give myself around 6 months to organise everything, and then hold monthly meetings with colleagues and other agency partnerships such as Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue, Lincolnshire Community Health Services, NHS, children’s centres etc. to make sure things run as smoothly as possible

Why do you think the Bitrex Taste Test is useful for highlighting Child Safety in general?

I think the Bitrex Taste Test is a very useful tool in raising child safety, all the parents who I interact with agree that this should be put into each and every chemical, poison, cleaning product on the market.

Once we have done the Taste Test and signed the petition it gives me a great opportunity to discuss all other childhood safety issues because we have them engaged and they can then see that we are trying to support them in child safety and not tell them how to look after their children!

How did you get your Health promotion Group behind the idea?

I made them take the Test!

Top tips?

Show them what you are trying to change. We have glass jars on our table, one with Liquitabs and one with jelly sweets which looks similar, we show both jars to the children and ask them which they would like to eat (you would be amazed that 80% choose the tabs over the sweets)