ORGANISATIONS IN Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent with a duty to protect children will be raising awareness of child sexual exploitation (CSE) this weekend as part of national CSE Awareness Day (March 18).
On March 18, Staffordshire County Council, Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Staffordshire Police and the Staffordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner will launch the ‘Trusted Relationships’ campaign across social media.
Child sexual exploitation – when young people are manipulated or coerced into sexual activity – is an extremely serious issue and happens across the country.
The campaign hopes to empower individuals and communities to spot the signs of child sexual exploitation, recognise some of the tactics used by criminals to groom and exploit children and highlight how positive and trusted relationships are a vital tool in breaking the CSE cycle.
The campaign will be led by Catch22, an organisation jointly commissioned by the two councils and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner to work across the city and county to support children and young people to identify unhealthy relationships, victims of Child Sexual Exploitation and children missing from home.
Catch 22 has supported over 1100 professionals and 287 children and young people at risk of CSE since the service launched last September, and has already made a positive impact for children and young people.
John Wood, the Joint Chair of the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Safeguarding Children’s Board, said: “This is part of our ongoing campaign against one of the biggest threats to our children’s safety.
“We will only stop child sexual exploitation through education and everyone being aware of how the changing tactics of criminals are still leading to young people being victims.
“We are committed to ensuring our children and young people are safe, so this campaign is another opportunity to ensure that any young person or parent knows about Catch22 and that they can get quality advice, help and guidance. It is crucial that everyone knows the signs of child sexual exploitation and how to report it so I encourage everyone to share the campaign across their own social media accounts too.”
Nigel Sargeant, Senior Service Coordinator of Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire CSE and Missing Service said: “Across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire, we’re working hard to make sure that every day is CSE Awareness Day. Our experienced and highly qualified team are here to have these conversations, and we encourage both adults and young people to get in touch with their concerns. By working together with families, professionals and communities, we’ll raise awareness to protect our children and prevent exploitation in the first place.”
People can find out more and join in by going to any of the organisation’s Facebook or Twitter pages from Sunday or following the hashtag #CSE2018
Any parent, carer or young parent can contact Catch22 confidentially on 01782 237106, with more help and information on www.knowaboutcse.co.uk to help people recognise the warning signs of exploitation. If you think a child is in immediate risk of harm, always call 999.