With the issue of child sexual exploitation (CSE) becoming increasingly high-profile following some disturbing cases in the national media over the past twelve months. As part of raising awareness of CSE, Cornwall Council is supporting today’s (18th March) National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day. As Lead Member for Children’s Service I fully support this awareness day, but really we should be raising awareness of CSE 365 days a year, As TOGETHER, we can work to inform, educate and prevent this form of child sexual abuse within the UK.
The aim of the day is to help raise awareness of the issue and potential dangers, encouraging everyone to think, spot and speak out against abuse and adopt a zero tolerance to adults developing inappropriate relationships with children or children developing inappropriate relationships with other children.
There are a number of myths about child sexual exploitation – but the stark truth is that it is present across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and affects boys and young men as well as girls and young women. Sexual exploitation takes many forms, from a seemingly ‘consensual’ relationship, where sexual acts are given for affection, accommodation, alcohol, drugs, money or gifts, through to the prostitution or trafficking of children across the counties, town or streets for the purpose of sexual activity . It can occur without physical contact, when children are groomed to post indecent sexual images of themselves on the internet. Any young person can become a victim of sexual exploitation and many young people, who are being exploited, frequently do not recognise they are being abused.
Our children should expect to lead their lives free of abuse, exploitation and neglect and we must do all that we can to meet their expectations. Sexual exploitation of our children damages their self-esteem; harms them emotionally and interferes with their life-long ambitions.
What is child sexual exploitation? Everybody has the right to be safe no matter who they are or what their circumstances. We are all responsible for the safety of children and young people we must ensure that we are doing all we can to protect the most vulnerable members of our society.
Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is child abuse involving children and young people receiving something, such as attention, affection, gifts, alcohol, drugs or accommodation, as a result of them being coerced into performing sexual activities, or having others perform sexual acts on them. It can occur without physical contact, when children are groomed to post indecent sexual images of themselves on the internet. Any young person can become a victim of sexual exploitation and many young people, who are being exploited, frequently do not recognise they are being abused. It affects boys and young men as well as girls and young women.
What can you do to today? Please help to raise awareness of this important issue by sharing this information with your colleagues, friends and families. If we all know what to do, and we all work together, we can make a real difference.
Furthermore, If you use social media, write a personal pledge on your hands to show support for our Helping Hands campaign. Post your photo on social media with the hashtag #HelpingHands to help us raise awareness of CSE.
If you would like to find out more information about child sexual exploitation including information for parents and carers and the myths surrounding this subject please visit the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Safeguarding Children Board website.