Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Interview with Michele Elliott, Founder of British Charity, Kidscape

It is my distinct pleasure and honor to interview Michele Eliott, OBE, founder of the British charity, Kidscape.  It is also my pleasure to call Michele a dear friend of over twenty years, and I welcome her warmly to my blog.

NS: Please tell us how and when Kidscape came into being?   

ME:  Kidscape came into being around our kitchen table when I found out from working with children and their families that nothing was being done about sexual abuse and other issues like bullying.  This was back in 1984, and in the UK there was denial about both issues.  I went to the National Society for Protection of Children and the police and the Home Office, but they all said that these things were not happening or that they were rare or that they were happening in other places, like the USA.  That is because I am American but living in London, so they heard my accent and concluded that this was an imported problem.  So that night around the kitchen table, I founded Kidscape.  Kid for children and scape for escape or landscape- kids looking over things.

NS:  What are the main goals of the charity?

ME:  Our major goals are preventing children being harmed and giving them practical ways to keep safe.  We say: preventing bullying protecting children.

NS:  How far reaching globally is Kidscape?

ME: Kidscape has been adopted in Portugal, Spain, Greece and our books are in 16 languages, including recently into Spanish in Chile.

NS:   I know you are a prolific author.  Please tell us about your books as they relate to Kidscape.                                                                
      ME:  Somehow I had published 26 books over the past 25 years, ranging from children's color picture books about keeping safe, to books for older children and teens, parents, teachers, and other professionals.  I didn't plan for that to happen - it just grew 'like Topsy.'  I have also written a column for Family Circle magazine in the UK, which taught me a lot about how to write using stories in an accessible style - that took me quite a while and the editor was extremely patient.

                                                                                                "preventing bullying
                                                                   protecting children"

  NS:  What do you see for the future of Kidscape?
       ME:  I am retiring from Kidscape but staying on as an author and consultant.  I did not want Kidscape to be Michele Elliott but to be about children.  We now have a fabulous team headed by Claude Knights, who has been with Kidscape for 10 years.  She and the staff are carrying Kidscape into schools, holding free courses for severely bullied children and young people and sending the messages worldwide.  I am very proud of them all - some have been with Kidscape for nearly 20 years - the staff is very loyal and committed to helping children.

     NS:  Your were recently awarded a great honor by the Queen of England.  Please tell us about it and what it means to you personally.

      ME: When I received the letter from the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, saying he was 'minded' to suggest to the Queen that I be given an honor', I thought it was a practical joke!  But it was real, and the letter asked if I was willing to accept.  WILLING????  Thrilled, delighted, excited would be more like it.  Of course that kind of enthusiasm is from the American half of my personality (my mother had a British passport).  Anyway meeting the Queen was one of the highlights of my life - she was so gracious, and I was terrified that I would trip while approaching or genuflecting.  She put me and all the other recipients at ease with her friendly manner and questions.  Being in the palace and getting to wear a lovely hat were the other highlights.  By the way, the queen is quite tiny and she does carry a handbag.  xxx

      Many thanks, Michele, for your insightful-and fun-answers!  It's always such a pleasure to hear about Kidscape and its history.  You can be so proud of your accomplishments, and what you have modestly said here is only a tiny part of the story and of your achievements.

      For those who would like to know more about this important charity for children, the link is:


  1. Nancy,

    Great interview! Thanks for sharing it.

    Nicole Weaver

  2. Nancy,

    Thank you for introducing us to Michele Elliot and kidscape! I browsed kidscape's website and it looks like they have some great resources to help parents and teachers address bullying issues.


  3. Thank you Nancy for such an enlightening interview with Michele. Thank you Michele for all that you do.

    The safety of our children ensures the safety of our future generations.

    Bullying is a problem here in the US as well as Engalnd. Awareness brought to schools, parents, and children is extremely important to the welfare of all.

    So glad to have crossed your path.

  4. Michele, congratulations on forming such a worthwhile organization. I commend you for all youra hard work!

    Best wishes,

  5. Thank you all for visiting the blog and learning about Michele and the worthwhile work she's done through the years.