We are supporting the National Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Awareness Day tomorrow, Saturday 18 March.
The day which has been arranged by the charity, National Working Group (NWG), aims to highlight the issues surrounding CSE; encouraging everyone to think, spot the signs and speak out against abuse involving themselves or can see happening to others.
Child sexual exploitation is sexual abuse that involves children under the age of 18 being coerced or manipulated into sexual activity with adults or older children.
Detective Chief Inspector Sharon Wood said: "Child sexual exploitation (CSE) can affect any child, anytime, anywhere. CSE has no barriers, any child can be sexually exploited no matter what culture, ethnicity or religion.It involves offenders grooming young people both on and off-line and using their power to sexually abuse them. Sexual exploitation can take many forms including through a seemingly ‘consensual’ relationship for older teens in particular. It can also include non-contact abuse such as being persuaded to send inappropriate images of themselves via a phone or online. Everyone has a role to play in raising awareness of CSE, the safeguarding of our children is everybody’s business.”
Due to the harm it causes preventing CSE is a key priority for Humberside Police – and YOU can help us to protect the most vulnerable young people in our communities, as well as bringing those responsible for abusing them to justice. The whole community has a role to play in ensuring children are not put at risk as we know it can occur anywhere in the country.
A large proportion of those responsible for abusing children first groom their victims, manipulating them into trusting them in order to exploit them. This can often take the form of taking them out for something to eat or buying them gifts or showing them affection – and this is where you can help.
If you spot young people in the company of adults and the situation appears to be inappropriate – or you would not be happy to let a child in your care do the same – then please get in touch with Humberside Police with as much detail as possible. It may not seem significant, but it could contribute to a wider investigation.
Other warning signs to look out for include:
• Does the young person appear to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs?
• Should the young person be at school, or is it late at night for them to be out?
• Are the adults the child is with buying him/her gifts?
• Is the child going into a hotel room with one or more adults who don’t appear to be relations?
• Has the young person asked for a taxi to a hotel or another venue where they are met by a group of adults who don’t appear to be family members?
• Are there any indications (holding hands or other physical contact) which would suggest the relationship is not appropriate?
We also work with local authorities across the Humberside area to educate young people about the dangers of child sexual exploitation, as part of our Not in Our Community campaign. This focuses on advice for young people on how to avoid being targeted and where they can go for support if they or friends are affected. Young people get involved on Facebook by liking the @notinourcommunity page and by following @NotInOur twitter account.
DCI Wood added: “The key message to the wider community is to report anything they think looks suspicious or out of place. This could be adults appearing to have inappropriate relationships with a child, adults regularly being in the company of children or being visited by them at home or even drivers pulling over, speaking to children. It may seem that the information you have is insignificant, but it could be a vital piece of information to enable us to protect and safeguard young people, so please call 101.”
To help protect young people we have launched the “Say something if you see something” initiative with hotels, taxi companies and other service sector organisations across the county. This initiative is aimed to raise awareness about CSE and encourage reporting of suspicious circumstances by those in occupations who may see CSE as they go about their daily business. Staff working in these organisations may witness relevant suspicious behaviour and are being encouraged to look for the signs of abuse and criminal activity. The aim is to make our area a hostile environment for those that want to abuse children, asking staff to ‘think, spot and speak out’ and report any concerns to the police.
DCI Wood added: “The services industry are in a unique position to be our eyes and ears. With this in mind we have worked closely with businesses and their staff across the Humberside area to report anything they think is suspicious or out of place. By utilising this key information we are better equipped to not only protect young people, but also conduct investigations into perpetrators who may abuse them.”
If you have any concerns that a child you know may be a victim of Child Sexual Exploitation report it to Humberside Police on 101 or in an emergency 999 and make an immediate report. Alternatively people can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
For more information of Child Sexual Exploitation visit our website.