'Don't turn a blind eye' - Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day 2017
‘Don’t turn a blind eye to child sexual exploitation’ – that’s the message from Norfolk’s most senior police officer as the force supports a national campaign.
National Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Awareness Day takes place tomorrow (Saturday 18 March),and aims to highlight issues surrounding CSE and encourage everyone – from members of the public to professionals – to spot the signs and speak out.
CSE is a form of child abuse where a victim is given something - often food, money, drugs, alcohol, or other gifts - in exchange for sexual activity with the abuser.
Offenders target vulnerable young people and use their power - such as physical, financial and emotional control - over the child to sexually abuse them. Violence, coercion and intimidation are common.
As part of the initiative, police in Norfolk will be taking to social media to bring home the message using hashtags #HelpingHands and #CSEDay17.
Chief Constable Simon Bailey, who is also the national policing lead for Child Protection, said: "Child sexual exploitation is a despicable crime; it can affect any child regardless of their culture or background.
"Victims and offenders in these offences cannot be typified – this abuse can take many forms in many settings.
"It can happen in seemingly ‘consensual’ relationships but can also include non-contact abuse such as being persuaded to send explicit images of themselves via a phone or online.
"Young people often fail to recognise that they are a victim or are in an exploitative relationship and it is therefore essential no one turns a blind eye to abuse.
"Everyone has a role to play in raising awareness of CSE, the safeguarding of our children is everybody’s business.”
CSE is a priority for Norfolk Constabulary which has a dedicated group of detectives and social workers working within the MASE (Multi-Agency Sexual Exploitation) Team to identify and safeguard children and young people who are at risk of harm from exploitation.
The MASE - which receives around 60 referrals a month - also targets perpetrators and potential perpetrators in a bid to bring offenders to justice and works in partnership with The Magdalene Group's *Rose project and Barnardo's to provide therapeutic support, befriending and education to those at risk.
Such work has also been supported the Constabulary’s Safer Schools Partnership Team which has a team of officers working with all 51 high schools in the county to deliver online safety advice to students.
Warning signs a child may be a victim of CSE, include:
- Staying out late or period of going missing overnight or longer
- Older ‘boyfriend/girlfriend’ or relationship with a controlling adult
- Physical injury without plausible explanation
- Entering or leaving vehicles driven by unknown adults
- Unexplained amounts of money, expensive clothing or other items
- Lack of engagement with education
- Drugs or alcohol misuse
- Unusual or increased use of mobile phone and/or the internet that causes concern
Parents can visit the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre's (CEOP) 'Thinkuknow' website at: https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/parents/ for more information.
If you are concerned about someone’s behaviour towards your child, you can report this directly to CEOP via www.ceop.police.uk/safety-centre.
Other helplines include:
Contact the MASH on 0344 800 8020 and ask to speak to someone in the Multi Agency Sexual Exploitation Team (MASE).
Contact Parents against Child Sexual Exploitation (Pace) helpline 0113 240 3040.
A young person who is at risk of, or is being sexually exploited can call the *ROSE Project helpline 0808 800 1037 or live chat magdalenegroup.org/rose-project.
For more information on the day visit: stop-cse.org/national-child-exploitation-awareness-day/