1. ITV Report

Councillors in South Tyneside backing campaign to raise awareness of child exploitation

National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day aims to highlight the issue and encourage people to speak out against child abuse Photo: South Tyneside Council

Councillors in South Tyneside have pledged their support in the run-up to this year’s national Child Exploitation Awareness Day.

To mark the day, which is on Saturday March 18, they have written pledges on their hands to show support for the Helping Hands campaign.

Child sexual exploitation is a form of sexual abuse that involves the manipulation or coercion of young people under the age of 18 into sexual activity.

National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day aims to highlight the issue and encourage people to spot and speak out against this type of child abuse.

It also aims to foster a zero tolerance approach towards adults developing inappropriate relationships with children or children developing inappropriate relationships with other children.

Sexual exploitation devastates young lives and can leave its victims scarred for life. By raising awareness of this campaign we hope to educate and help eradicate the sexual exploitation of children.

“Child sexual exploitation is an issue for society as a whole and I would encourage everyone to think, spot and speak out against abuse.”

– Councillor Joan Atkinson, Lead Member for Children, Young People and Families

To raise awareness of the issue, key messages about CSE are being displayed on all public building plasma screens, literature has been distributed to local sports centres and groups and a feature article has been included in the Council newsletter in a bid to encourage people to participate in the making of a pledge and posting it up on the social media#HelpingHands site.

Young people from a range of local youth groups such as the Junior Local Safeguarding Children Board, MAGIC and the Youth Parliament are also developing and designing a display made of paper hand pledges.

Child sexual exploitation is an abhorrent crime and we are committed to working with our partners to keep our young people safe.

We will continue to adopt a zero tolerance approach towards any adults who form inappropriate relationships with children.”

– Councillor Moira Smith, Chair of the South Tyneside Community Safety Partnership

To send your own pledge in support of the campaign, post your photo on social media with the hashtag #HelpingHands.