‘Say something if you see something’ is the key message of National Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Awareness Day which takes places on Saturday 18 March.
The campaign aims to highlight the issues surrounding CSE and encourage everyone, from members of the public to professionals, to speak out and adopt a zero tolerance approach.
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. It happens both in the real world and online.
Offenders target vulnerable children and use emotional, financial or physical power over the child to sexually abuse them. Violence and intimidation are often part of the picture. Children can be given gifts, money, alcohol or drugs in exchange for sexual activity with the abuser.
In an initiative to raise awareness of CSE and human trafficking, Suffolk Police and the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board will be working with hotel staff in the county to encourage greater understanding of the complex issues involved. Staff working in hotels may witness relevant suspicious behaviour on their premises and are being encouraged to look for the signs of abuse and criminal activity. The aim is to make Suffolk 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.
NWG (formerly The National Working Group for Sexually Exploited Children and Young People), a charitable organisation formed as a UK network of over 10,000 practitioners, is behind the Awareness Day. They are committed to the fight against CSE and support victims and their families who are have been subjected to child sexual exploitation.
The Police and Crime Commissioner is joining Suffolk Constabulary is supporting this day of awareness raising and is taking to social media to bring home the message using the hashtags #HelpingHands and #SaySomething.
Tim Passmore, Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner, said; “Protecting young victims of sexual exploitation has got to be an absolute priority for us all so I wholly endorse this ‘Say something if you see something’ campaign.
“It is imperative that we work together with other child support agencies to support and protect victims of this terrible, terrible crime. It is beyond my comprehension that vulnerable young people can be subjected to such horrific abuse. It is so malicious and can have a devastating and lasting impact on young lives.
“I am totally committed to zero tolerance to Child Sexual Exploitation, and would ask anyone who has any suspicion to please speak up.”Detective Superintendent David Cutler of Suffolk Constabulary’s Protecting Vulnerable People Directorate said,
“Like nearly every police force in the country we have seen the number of reports of both child abuse and sexual exploitation increase significantly over the last four or so years. These reports are both of recent allegations but also of those that occurred many, many years ago. There are two really important messages I would want to communicate:
“The first is that it doesn’t matter when the abuse or exploitation took place. The important thing is to take that really big first step and to tell someone. I would encourage those who have been abused and exploited to come to us but I do know that this can be very hard and that it may not be the right thing for everyone. There are other organisations across the County and nationally who you can also tell. Telling someone is the start of the process for victims of these crimes to get the help that they rightly deserve. The police are just one part of the help that is available and I have seen how lives can be changed for the better as a result of taking that step.
“The second is that it is really important for all of us to know what the possible signs are that a child is being abused or exploited. Do have a look at our website www.suffolk.police.uk/advice for some easy to access guides that assist with what to look for. Unless we recognise the signs it is really hard to put in the right interventions and the right support. This responsibility is on the police, on other professionals, on teachers and on parents; it is a responsibility on all of us. If we have concerns then we must make sure these are brought to the attention of the appropriate person. Again our web-site gives some guidance on this. The Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) reviews these concerns and ensures that the very best decisions are made that provide the necessary safeguarding for children.
“Suffolk Police treats the abuse and exploitation of children as one of its highest priorities. We take every allegation seriously regardless of when it occurred. We have skilled and dedicated staff who work with a wide range of other professionals across the public and voluntary sector to ensure we can, together, provide the very highest possible level of service to victims of these offences.”
Important: If you think a child is in immediate danger; contact us straight away by calling 999.
Warning signs to look out for
Staying out late or periods 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
Help and support
Whether you are an adult concerned about the welfare of a child you know, or if you are a child who is upset about something that is happening to you, there is help and support available.
Parents can visit http://www.suffolk.police.uk/advice/child-protection/child-sexual-exploitation for further information and links to support and advice services, including videos etc
Parents can visit the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre’s (CEOP) ‘Thinkuknow’ website at: https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/parents/ for more information.
Childnet is an organisation working to make the internet a safe place for children and has useful information for parents and schools http://www.childnet.com/
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.
If you are a child or young person worried or upset talk to an adult you know well and trust.
If you don’t have anyone you can talk to, you can call ChildLine for free. You can talk about any problem and there will always be someone there to help you.
0800 1111 www.childline.org.uk
Suffolk’s Children Services
Tel: 0808 800 4005.
Customer First is a specialist call centre with trained staff who know about the services that are available to offer and who can help.
Other helplines include:
NWG Network –
If you’re not sure who the best organisation is to contact then call NWG on 01332 585371 and they will put you in touch with the right people to help you.
For more information on the day visit:www.stop-cse.org/national-child-exploitation-awareness-day/
Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation (Pace) helpline 0113 240 3040. http://paceuk.info/