Amber Valley Info

Local charity Safe and Sound is offering awareness sessions to youth and community groups about child sexual exploitation as part of its support for National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day (March 18).





 













 

Safe and Sound: Child Sexual Exploitation Is Everyones' Business

by Amber Valley Info on Tuesday 12 March 2019



National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day – March 18 2019.


Local charity Safe and Sound is offering awareness sessions to youth and community groups about child sexual exploitation as part of its support for National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day (March 18).



Safe and Sound specialises in providing individual support for children and young people aged up to 18 across Derbyshire who have experienced or are at risk of child sexual exploitation. 


The charity also visits schools and community groups – thanks to funding from Children in Need - to highlight the issue and the warning signs that young people, parents and carers should be alert to.


Child Sexual Exploitation (commonly referred to as CSE) is a form of child sexual abuse and takes many different forms from rape and sexual assault to online grooming and encouraging children to share inappropriate images of themselves.


The key factor is that individuals or groups take advantage of young people by manipulating or deceiving them into sexual activity in exchange for something the victim needs or wants. 


This could range from money and alcohol to less tangible things such as the attention that they crave at a vulnerable time in their lives.


Catherine Arkley, chair of Safe and Sound, explained that, despite many high profile prosecutions, there was still a long way to go to make people fully aware of the dangers facing children and young people in local communities across the city and county.


 “Child sexual exploitation can be an issue that people find difficult to comprehend because an exchange has taken place – whatever that may be.


“Regardless of exchange, these children and young people are victims of manipulation, coercion and, in many cases, threats if they turn to anyone for help.


“Similarly, young people themselves may not realise they are being groomed and regard abuse as a loving relationship. Nothing could however be further from the truth.


“Further complications lie in the fact that signs can sometimes be mistaken for normal adolescent behaviours such as becoming withdrawn, staying out late or being secretive about who they are with.


“Spending increasing time on the internet and social media is another indicator as online grooming is a particularly growing danger and is sometime the first contact that young people have with a perpetrator.


“Safe and Sound’s specialist team has provided support to children as young as eight across Derbyshire.


“We listen to the young person, help them to recognise that what they have experienced is not their fault and arm them with the knowledge and confidence to help them be aware of the signs in the future.”


Mrs Arkley continued that a key part of the awareness sessions was to challenge misconceptions that this crime affected only young girls in care and that that perpetrators all operate in gangs from specific ethnic communities.


“Our own experiences through supporting children and young people show that any child – boy or girl - can be sexually exploited regardless of their background, family situation, ethnicity or age.


“Perpetrators can be men or women, of all ages and all ethnicities whether they operate in isolation or as part of a group.


“It is therefore crucial that everyone knows about this issue, can better recognise warning signs and know where to go for advice, help and support.


“As we approach National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day on March 18 – I would appeal to everyone to be aware of the potential dangers for children and young people in our local communities.”


To book an awareness session and for more information about these issues, how Safe and Support can help and how to support the charity’s work in Derbyshire, please visit www.safeandsoundgroup.org and follow on Facebook and Twitter @safeandsoundgroup


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