Children 1st

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Children 1st, previously known as the Royal Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (RSSPCC), is a Scottish charity which aims to give every child in Scotland a safe and secure childhood. Children 1st supports families under stress, protects children from harm and neglect, promotes children’s rights and helps children recover from abuse.[1]


The official history of the RSSPCC ignores the role of Emma Stirling which the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography believes may be due to her gender or a legal dispute, but it was Stirling who created the first, and later eight, home for abused and neglected Scottish children in 1884.[2] Another source agrees that Stirling's Edinburgh society was the precursor of the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.[3]

The New York society believe that the RSSPCC has its origins in the anti cruelty movement that grew in America in the 19th century. Following a landmark lawsuit, in which the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals took a case under animal cruelty legislation against two New Yorkers for abusing an eight-year-old child, Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children sprang up on both sides of the Atlantic.[4]

In 1884 there was a home for abused children in Edinburgh.[2] It was beginning to be understood that there was a considerable amount of abuse being perpetrated on children in the UK. To counter this the first Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children was established in London. Following on from this creation in England branches began to be set up throughout Scotland and in 1889, the Glasgow and Edinburgh branches joined to form the Scottish National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children.[5]

In the same year, the first Act of Parliament for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children was passed.

The NSPCC also began to come into existence around this time and now operates in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Although the two charities are completely separate organisations, they work together to improve the lives of children and families throughout the UK.

Name change[edit]

In 1921 the Scottish National Society received Royal Charter and became the Royal Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (RSSPCC).

In its early incarnation the society was set up to rescue children living rough and begging on the streets, in later years the Society became better known for investigating child abuse and neglect.

In 1968 new legislation gave responsibility for investigating child abuse to local authority social work departments. As a result, the role of RSSPCC changed. However, it was some years before the charity changed its name to reflect this change in role, adopting the campaigning name Children 1st in 1995.[5]

Children and family services[edit]

Today, Children 1st provides 46 services in 17 local authority areas as well as four national services including ParentLine Scotland which is the free, national telephone helpline for anyone with a concern about a child. Between April 2007 and March 2011 Children 1st operated ChildLine Scotland on behalf of the NSPCC.[6]

Children 1st has pioneered the use of the Family Group Conference in Scotland,[7] and also provides a befriending service “Bfriends”,[8] several local family support services, a number of abuse and trauma recovery services across Scotland, and the national Safeguarding in Sport service.[9]


Children 1st also campaigns and lobbies on behalf of children and young people in Scotland. The campaigning priorities of Children 1st build on the work of its services. The organisation is part of campaigning coalitions, including Children Are Unbeatable!, which campaigns for an end to physical punishment, and Justice for Children, which campaigns for better conditions for children giving evidence in court.

Kilts for Kids[edit]

Kilts for Kids is a year-round fundraising event celebrating all things Scottish. Hamish the Highland Coo was launched as the mascot for this fundraising drive on August 30, 2012.[10] Since 2008, thousands of people have taken part in Kilts for Kids organising their own Scottish-themed fundraising event.

The first Kilts for Kids event was launched in Glasgow on 19 September 2008 with the support of media personality Kaye Adams, and comedians Karen Dunbar and Sanjeev Singh Kohli.


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b Philip Girard, ‘Stirling, Emma Maitland (1838/9–1907)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 9 Aug 2017
  3. ^ Roy Parker (2010). Uprooted: The Shipment of Poor Children to Canada, 1867-1917. Policy Press. pp. 111–. ISBN 978-1-84742-668-0. 
  4. ^ The History of NYSPCC Archived 6 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ a b "GCU Archives > RSSPCC (CHILDREN 1ST) Archive". Archived from the original on 23 December 2012. Retrieved 22 September 2011. 
  6. ^ Children 1st to run ChildLine services in Scotland Archived 30 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ The importance of kinship care : The Journal Magazine : The Journal of the Law Society of Scotland Archived 19 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ Wooden Spoon : Scotland Starts 2007 with Six Great Events! Archived 23 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 24 October 2012. Retrieved 25 October 2012. 
  10. ^[permanent dead link]


External links[edit]