A week of awareness about child sexual exploitation (CSE) begins across Nottingham and Nottinghamshire today 14 March 2016.
CSE is a type of sexual abuse in which the victim is given something (affection, food, money, drugs, alcohol or gifts) in exchange for sexual activity with one or more abusers. CSE can affect any child under the age of 18; boys or girls, regardless of their social or ethnic background. CSE often involves abuse over a long period, often within a type of abusive relationship in which organised sexual abuse may take place involving one or more abuser. The abuse and the relationship can be online or physical.
CSE is an under-reported crime and the aim of the campaign is to open people’s eyes to what CSE is and to make sure that as many of Nottingham’s communities are aware of the possible signs and how to report it. Nottingham City Council will be running a high-profile social media campaign to raise public awareness of child sexual exploitation.
The partnership response involves working with local schools, youth activity groups, licencing, taxi drivers, security firms and hoteliers across Nottingham and the region.
The local campaign in Nottingham will run from 14 to 18 March and will:
- Define CSE and tell the public how to report it
- Raise public awareness about what CSE is
- Educate the public about CSE in an engaging and simple way
- Spread the message that everyone has a role in stopping CSE
- Show people where to get help if they are worried about a child
Partners, including Nottinghamshire Police, Nottinghamshire County Council, Nottingham University Hospitals Trust, Nottingham City Care, and the City’s Play & Youth teams, have been working together to educate young people and their parents & carers on the warning signs of child sexual exploitation, how to stay safe, and most importantly how to get help.
The week of awareness culminates with National CSE Awareness Day Wednesday 18 March.
Councillor David Mellen, Portfolio Holder for Early Intervention and Early Years, said: “Keeping our children safe is a high priority for Nottingham City Council and we are proud to be working with our partners in the city to raise awareness of CSE and tell local people what the signs of abuse look like and report abuse if they see it.
“We are committed to working with front line colleagues in health, schools and youth groups as well as local taxi drivers, security firms and hoteliers across Nottingham to make sure that everybody’s eyes are open to CSE. We want to spread the message that everyone needs to be a part of this work to help raise awareness, do what they can to spot the signs of CSE and report them immediately.”
Detective Inspector Pete Quinn of Nottinghamshire Police said: “We have already noted a significant increase in the number of reports of child sexual exploitation in Nottinghamshire. This indicates not just a growing confidence among victims to come forward, but also a heightened awareness of the signs and circumstances which indicate that a young person is being exploited. While it is important for the agencies who work together to reduce the prevalence of child sexual exploitation, public awareness is also crucial if we are to deal with this issue as effectively as possible.
“Only by working together can we send out a strong message to victims that they will be believed and supported when they come forward, while making sure that their abusers know that the community can act as the eyes and ears of the police and our partners to stop this horrendous activity.”
Steve Edwards, service director for Children’s Social Care said: “CSE is a priority area of work for Nottinghamshire County Council and the Nottinghamshire Safeguarding Children Board and we continue to work in a multi-agency way to focus on raising awareness among professionals. This is carried out through face to face training and e-learning so children who may be being exploited, or at risk of sexual exploitation, can be identified early. As a result, professionals will then intervene early to investigate, disrupt any exploitation and assist with protecting and supporting the child and their family.”
The County Council engages with parents and carers through secondary schools, promoting free CSE e-learning provided by PACE (Parents against child sexual exploitation). The Pintsize Theatre is once again touring the majority of Nottinghamshire secondary schools putting on a unique play and workshop about CSE to more than 7,000 pupils.
Specialist support is also provided through Barnardos to young people who are at risk of exploitation or who have been exploited and the wider partnership includes working with the seven District councils on issues such as licencing and raising awareness to businesses.
In addition to a local campaign on social media channels Facebook, Twitter and Instagram which makes use of the hard-hitting imagery and messages of the National Working Group for CSE – www.stop-cse.org, Councillors, Directors, Officers and members of the public are being asked to write a personal pledge on their hands and tweet it using the hashtag #HelpingHands to show their support for raising CSE awareness.
Awareness raising activities during the week include awareness raising workshops with local scout and guide groups and a showcase event at Holme Pierrepont on Friday 18 March, to mark National CSE Awareness Day including:
- Frontline workers from different services who come into contact with young people at risk of sexual exploitation.
- Partners presenting the work they are doing to keep children safe from CSE. This includes hearing the stories of CSE survivors.
- NSPCC, Barnardo’s, Nottinghamshire Police are all speaking at the event.
- A performance by the Pintsize Theatre Company who run LUVU2; a 50 minute play and interactive workshop that travels to schools across the City and County exploring why and how young people can protect themselves and their friends from CSE.
- A showing of “Dark Angels” a film by Nottingham’s Take One Studios which has been produced by and stars local young people to raise awareness of CSE amongst a younger audience.
- Along with social media, posters and leaflets will be going out across neighbourhoods and on websites to raise the profile of this abuse crime and help keep children safe.
For more information on child sexual exploitation and who to contact if you have any concerns that a young person you know may be a victim of child sexual exploitation visit http://www.stop-cse.org/
Who do I call if want to report a child at risk?
- If you believe that a child is at immediate risk call the Police on 999 immediately
- If you feel the child is at risk but not in immediate need of protection, call the Police on 101.
- To report suspected exploitation anonymously you can call Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111
- If you make the decision to contact Children’s Social Care, and the child or young person lives in Nottingham city, please call 0115 876 4800.
- If you do not feel comfortable speaking to the Police or Social Care you can phone the Free NSPCC Confidential Helpline on 0808 800 5000.
You can also report it to Nottinghamshire Police by calling 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. If someone is in immediate danger, dial 999.
Warning signs of child sexual exploitation include;
- Has the young person received unexplained gifts or money?
- Do they use their mobile phone secretively?
- Do they have significantly older friends?
- Have they been picked up from home or school by someone you don’t know?
- Are they associating with other young people who are already known to be vulnerable or involved in exploitation?
- Have they started playing truant from school or regularly going missing from home?
- Have they suffered from repeated sexually-transmitted infections?
- Are they self-harming?
- Has their appearance/behaviour significantly changed?
This further description of CSE also explains what people should look out for;
- Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a form of child abuse where the victim is usually, but not always, given something – food, money, drugs, alcohol, gifts, in exchange for sexual activity with the abuser.
- Child sexual exploitation is a crime that can affect any child, anytime, anywhere- regardless of their social or ethnic background
- It involves grooming and using their power to sexually abuse them. This ‘power’ manifests itself in different way – through ‘romance’ or ‘friendship’. As the exploitation escalates, threats and violence may be used to control children and keep them compliant.
- Offenders target vulnerable young people and use their power – physical, financial and emotional over the child to sexually abuse them.
- CSE is child abuse and although they may not realise it, it puts the young person at huge risk of damage to their physical, emotional and psychological health.
- CSE is a growing issue across the UK
- CSE is perpetrated against boys and girls irrespective of background, but while there is no stereotypical victim of exploitation, there are common warning signs in children’s behaviour that may indicate that something is wrong.
- A common feature of CSE is that the child or young person does not recognise the coercive nature of the relationship and does not see themselves as a victim of exploitation and therefore are unlikely to report the abuse to the police.
- Many young people who are being abused believe they are in a consensual relationship.
- There is not one type of victim or offender of CSE. CSE can take many forms in many settings.
- Organisations have a role in identifying and disrupting child sexual exploitation.