Children and young people in Cumbria are being urged to take steps to help protect themselves against child sexual exploitation (CSE).
A conference is taking place today to raise awareness of CSE among professionals working with children.
Children and young people are being urged to report any concerns they may have to the police or someone they trust, if they think there is a chance themselves or a friend is being exploited.
For example, this could be a young person having sex in return for attention, gifts, alcohol or cigarettes.
Although the young person may not realise it at the time, sexual exploitation can cause a lot of damage to their physical, emotional and psychological health.
Young people are also being warned of the dangers of ‘sexting’ as images can end up anywhere.
“CSE is often seen as being an inner city issue unfortunately sadly we know this is not the case and this is recognised by Sue Berelowitz the Deputy Children’s Commissioner for England who quoted that 'CSE is prevalent in every area of England, and is not restricted to just low income, inner city neighbourhoods, but in every type of neighbourhood, rural, urban, deprived and not deprived'.
“In short all agencies, professionals, carers and communities have a responsibility to work together to ensure that children and young people in Cumbria are protected from being sexually exploited.”
Parents in Cumbria are being urged to learn how to spot the signs of child sexual exploitation (CSE).
A conference will take place on Thursday to raise awareness of CSE among professionals working with children as well as providing key information and advice to members of the public.
"Most sexually exploited children live at home when the abuse starts, but according to a recent YouGov survey only half of parents say they are confident that they would be able to tell the difference between indicators of CSE and challenging teenage behaviour.
Engaged and informed parents are essential in tackling this abuse. It is parents and carers who will often be the first to notice the signs and who are in a position to intervene early, gather information and work in partnership with safeguarding professionals to support the child."
– TOM DUFFIN, NATIONAL PARTNERSHIPS DIRECTOR FOR PARENTS AGAINST CHILD SEXUAL EXPLOITATION
Police say increasingly children are on social media sites and applications, often unsupervised and can cause problems like indecent images of children/young people being circulated, to online grooming.
What are the signs you need to know?
Repeatedly going missing – particularly overnight
Coming home with unaccounted gifts, i.e. clothes, money, food.
Excessive and secret use of internet and /or mobile phone
Alcohol/Substance misuse/unexplained injuries
Losing contact with family and friends of their own age
What makes a child more at risk?
If they come from a chaotic or household/history of domestic abuse or neglect
A lack of friends in the same age group/low self esteem