#HelpingHands to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation

Buckinghamshire’s Safeguarding Children Board (BSCB), which aims to protect children and young people from abuse is urging residents to join them in the fight against child sexual exploitation (CSE) on Wednesday (18 March) as part of a national awareness day.

National CSE Awareness day has been organised by the the charity National Working Group (NWG) to highlight the issues surrounding CSE by encouraging everyone to think, spot and speak out against abuse; adopt a zero tolerance to adults developing inappropriate relationships with children, or children developing inappropriate relationships with other children.

To show your support on the day simply write a personal pledge on your hands, take a photo, and post it on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social media account using #HelpingHands and tagging @RUWiseBucks to make your pledge go viral. For examples of pledges visit www.stop-cse.org

Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a form of sexual abuse that involves the manipulation and/or coercion of young people under the age of 18 into sexual activity in exchange for things such as money, affection or gifts.

Last year, in an attempt to make people aware of the signs of CSE the BSCB which includes Buckinghamshire County Council, Districts, Barnardos – R U Safe, Health and Thames Valley Police (TVP) launched a joint campaign, ‘RUWise2it?’

Fran Gosling-Thomas, Chair of the Buckinghamshire Safeguarding Children Board said: “We are pleased to be supporting this worthwhile and important campaign by the NWG Network.

“Tackling and raising awareness of CSE is one of the top four priorities for the BSCB and its partners. However, people are often unsure about how they can help and this campaign has a very simple message – pledge your support, know the signs of child sexual exploitation and how to report concerns. It’s a very simple yet effective way to help.”

David Johnston, Managing Director for Children’s Social Care and Learning said: “By it’s nature child sexual exploitation is secretive and can happen to any child, no matter their age, sex, class, academic ability, or whether they are in care or in the family home. It is hard to spot and many people would not know what to do if they did have concerns about the safety of a child. This is why awareness raising days are so important. They offer a way to get a difficult subject out in the open so that we can all help stamp out this awful crime.”

Supt Olly Wright, LPA Commander for Aylesbury Vale, said: “It can be very difficult for those affected by CSE to recognise what has happened to them and to understand that they are not responsible. I want anyone who fears they may have been affected by CSE to know they can contact police with confidence. We will listen, we will believe them and we will act.”

Bucks has a county-wide service for young people, Barnardo’s ‘R-U-Safe?’ which is able to offer advice and support to any young person worried about these issues. Contact Bucks First Response – Children’s Social Care – 08454 600001.

For immediate disclosures of physical or sexual assaults please call 999 email secure-cypfirstresponse@buckscc.gcsx.gov.uk Text: 07546 075 638 or visit www.barnardos.org.uk/rusafebucks

If you are worried about somebody who you think may be a victim of child exploitation you can call ChildLine on 0800 11 11 or visit their website www.childline.org.uk If you have any information about this type of crime, you can contact Thames Valley Police on the non-emergency number 101.

For further information about National CSE Awareness day visit www.stop-cse.org