Pledge your support and know the signs of abuse to help keep all children safe against child sexual exploitation (CSE) – that’s the call from Buckinghamshire's Safeguarding Children Board to mark National CSE Awareness day on Saturday 18 March.
National CSE Awareness day aims to highlight the issues surrounding child sexual exploitation by encouraging everyone to think, spot and speak out against abuse; and adopt a zero tolerance to adults developing inappropriate relationships with children, or children developing inappropriate relationships with other children.
To show your support on the day simply write a personal pledge on your hands, take a photo, and post it on your facebook, twitter, instagram or other social media account using the #HelpingHands and #CSEDay17 hashtags to be part of the national social media campaign. Search the hashtags to see examples.
Child sexual exploitation is a form of sexual abuse that happens when a child or young person is tricked or forced into doing something sexual in return for things like attention, money, drugs, gifts or alcohol. It is illegal, although young people might not always see it that way, because they are groomed and manipulated by their abusers. Gradually the abuser manipulates the child to do things they think they are enjoying and don’t wish to give up, or things they are ashamed of. By the time the child realises there is something wrong, they can feel trapped and be too frightened or ashamed to tell anyone.
Both grooming and sexual exploitation can happen to any child or young person both in real life face to face situations and online, with online grooming playing an increasingly large part in exploitation.
Fran Gosling-Thomas, Chair of Buckinghamshire’s Safeguarding Children Board said: “We are pleased to again be supporting this worthwhile and important campaign in Buckinghamshire. Young people who are being groomed or exploited often don’t realise what is happening to them, or even think that what is happening is wrong. But for others, spotting that something is wrong is very hard if you don’t know what to look for.
“Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility, and the #HelpingHands campaign has a very clear message – pledge your support, know the signs of child sexual exploitation and know how to report concerns. It’s a very simple yet effective way to play your part in helping to keep all children safe.”
Buckinghamshire’s Safeguarding Children Board is a collaboration of agencies who work with children and young people in the county, and includes Buckinghamshire County Council, the four district councils, Thames Valley Police, Barnardo’s R U Safe, and health organisations. Together, they run a partnership CSE awareness campaign, ‘RUWise2it?' which provides parents and the public with information on how to spot the signs of exploitation and how to report concerns. Visit www.RUWise2it.co.uk to find out more.
David Johnston, Buckinghamshire County Council’s Managing Director for Children’s Social Care and Learning, said: "By its nature child sexual exploitation is secretive and can happen to any child, from any background or walk of life. It is hard to spot and many people would not know what to do if they did have concerns about the safety of a child. This is why awareness raising days are so important. They offer a way to get a difficult subject out in the open so that we can all help stamp out this truly horrific crime.
“It can be very difficult for those affected by CSE to recognise what has happened to them and to understand that they are not responsible. We are absolutely committed to preventing this crime – we pledge that we will listen, we will support you and we will act.”
Det. Supt. Nick John, Head of Protecting Vulnerable People at Thames Valley Police, said: “Thames Valley Police is pleased to be supporting CSE Awareness day. Safeguarding is everyone’s business and tackling child sexual exploitation, both non recent and current, remains a priority for the force. We are supporting the awareness day by sharing messages on our social media channels highlighting the signs of CSE and where you can go to for help. At 12.30pm on Wednesday 22 March, there will be an opportunity for parents and carers to join me in an online discussion about CSE where I will be happy to answer any questions or concerns they might have.”
You can take part in the Thames Valley Police online discussion at: http://thamesvp.coverpage.coveritlive.com/index2.php/option=com_altcaster/task=viewaltcast/template=thamesvp/altcast_code=93dc5b518d/width=700/height=550
How to get help or report a concern:
If you are concerned about a young person you can contact the First Response Team (Children’s Social Care) on 0845 460 0001 or email:
If you think a child or young person is in immediate danger call 999. Alternatively contact your local police on 101 who will have a dedicated team you can talk to about child sexual exploitation.
Buckinghamshire also has a countywide ‘R-U-Safe?’ service for young people run by Barnardo’s, which is able to offer advice and support to any young person worried about these issues. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, text 07546 075 638 or visit www.barnardos.org.uk/rusafebucks
ChildLine also offers support directly to children and young people – contact them on 0800 11 11 or visit their website www.childline.org.uk