Pledge to support our young people on 18 March
Pledge your support and know the signs of abuse to help keep children safe against all forms of exploitation – that’s the call from Buckinghamshire Safeguarding Children Partnership to mark National Child Exploitation Awareness day on Wednesday 18 March.
National CE Awareness day aims to highlight the issue of child sexual exploitation and child criminal exploitation by encouraging everyone to think about, spot the signs and speak out against all forms of child exploitation and abuse.
You can show your support for the national campaign via social media by writing a personal pledge on your hand, taking a photo and posting it to your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social media accounts using the hashtags #HelpingHands and #CEADay20. Search the hashtags to see examples.
Child sexual exploitation is a form of sexual abuse that happens when, over a period of time, a child or young person is manipulated or forced into doing something sexual in return for things like attention, money, drugs, gifts or alcohol. It is illegal, although young people might not always see it that way, because they believe that they are in a relationship with the perpetrator. Over time, abusers can coerce a child to do things they think they are enjoying or things they are ashamed of. By the time the child realises there is something wrong, they can feel trapped and be too frightened to speak out.
Sir Francis Habgood, Independent Chair of Buckinghamshire Safeguarding Children Partnership said:
“We are pleased to support this very important campaign in Buckinghamshire. Online grooming, criminal and sexual exploitation can happen to any child or young person, both in real-life face to face situations and online, with online grooming playing an increasingly large part in exploitation. The safeguarding of our children and young people in Buckinghamshire is everyone’s responsibility, and it is essential that people stay alert to the signs of child exploitation so that we can all play our part in helping to keep children safe.”
Child criminal exploitation is where an individual or a gang takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, control or manipulate a young person. The victim may appear as though they are consenting, but much like sexual exploitation, the young person is being groomed and is unlikely to see the risks of the situation they are in. This exploitation can take many forms such as being forced to carry drugs, theft, holding money in their bank account and recruiting others.
Warren Whyte, Buckinghamshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, says the National Awareness Day is an ideal opportunity for people to show their support and understand more about child exploitation in order to help others:
“It’s important we all recognise that children can’t consent to their exploitation, even though they may present themselves as happy with the situation.”
If, as a community, we arm ourselves by understanding the warning signs of exploitation, both sexual and criminal, we will be better able to protect children across Buckinghamshire”
“Our message is simple: if you see something that doesn’t seem right, say something. Contact our Children’s Social Care team, or talk to someone about it. It may be nothing but it may also save a child from becoming a victim of exploitation.
“Tackling all forms of child exploitation remains a priority for the County Council – we pledge that we will listen to you, we will support you and we will act.”
Buckinghamshire Safeguarding Children Partnership is a collaboration of agencies who work with children and young people in the County, and includes Buckinghamshire County Council, the four District Councils, Thames Valley Police, Barnardo’s RU Safe, and health organisations. To understand what child exploitation is and how to spot the signs visit https://www.bucksscp.org.uk/parents-carers/child-exploitation/