Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day 2018 – think, spot and speak out
14th March 2018
March 18th marks National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day, a day dedicated to highlighting the prevalent issue of child sexual exploitation (CSE), with the aim to encourage people to ‘think, spot and speak out against abuse’. With the hard-hitting story that claimed hundreds of girls have been abused in Telford, Shropshire, hitting the press this week, it is clear that more needs to be done to protect young people from such a horrific, yet preventable crime.
THINK: What is Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)?
Child sexual exploitation is a type of sexual abuse. Children and young people can be put into exploitative situations where they receive money, gifts, drugs or affection in return for performing or receiving sexual acts. These acts often involve degrading and forceful sexual assaults, but can also happen online with no physical contact.
It’s also important to note that sexual exploitation can have links to other types of crime. These include:
- Child trafficking
- Domestic abuse
- Sexual violence in intimate relationships
- Abusive images of children and their distribution
- Drugs-related offences
- Gang-related activity
- Grooming (including online grooming)
Online sexual exploitation can occur when children and young people are forced or convinced to send sexually explicit photos or videos, perform sexual acts over live stream or even sexual conversations online. Devastatingly, abusers may attempt to blackmail the young person by threatening to send the images or videos to their friends and family if they do not continue to do what they say.
Often is the case where children and young people believe they have entered a loving, meaningful and consensual relationships, which contributes to young people not disclosing the abuse. This may be a result of trusting the abuser, not understanding that they are being abused, or being too scared to tell anyone.
SPOT: What are the signs of Child Sexual Exploitation?
Child sexual exploitation can be incredibly difficult to spot, as the warning signs can be perceived as being typical teenage behaviours. However, there are some clear signs that help identify cases of abuse:
- Going missing from home, care or school
- Being involved in abusive relationships
- Being scared of certain people or situations
- Being secretive about who they are talking to
- Sudden changes in appearance i.e losing weight or wearing revealing clothes
- Hanging out with groups of older people, or having an older partner
- Being involved in gangs
- Use of sexual language
- Secretive about computer use and who they are talking to i.e. switching screens when you enter the room
- Unexplained injuries
- Self-harm or suicide attempts
SPEAK OUT: What can I do to prevent Child Sexual Exploitation?
Firstly, it is important to understand that child sexual exploitation is never the victim’s fault. It can often occur that people dismiss victims through problematic language such as referring to the young person as being ‘streetwise’, ‘out of control’ or ‘promiscuous’- challenge this type of language! ALL children and young people have right to be safe and protected from harm and should not be dismissed on their behaviours.
Safeguarding children and young people is everyone’s responsibility
It is well known that schools and colleges have a duty of care over their students. This is written in legislature and inspectorates to guide school staff on the safeguarding issues they encounter within their work.
All school staff should adopt the attitude of ‘it could happen here’, and expect to encounter cases of sexual exploitation. Creating a whole-school approach to safeguarding and promoting a non-judgemental, safe environment can be that difference between a young person speaking out against abuse or not. Further, ensuring all staff are aware of all types of abuse and neglect, as well as the warning signs, can help in early detection and prevention.
Promoting a system where young people can report instances
Being a victim of child sexual exploitation can be a frightening experience, making it incredibly difficult to open up to people. Providing a reporting system signals to young people that someone is there to listen to their concerns.
Included as part of Impero Education Pro is the anonymous reporting tool, Confide. This tool allows students to report any trepidations that they may have regarding themselves or another student, to a member of staff they trust. Using the Confide tool promotes a culture of safeguarding, welcoming students to express any worries and to assure them that they are being listened to. Furthermore, staff are notified to pressing issues and trends, so that they can be addressed before they escalate, further helping to protect vulnerable students in school.
How do I report instances of child sexual exploitation?
Schools and colleges should follow the guidance set out by Working Together to Safeguard Children and share the appropriate information with the Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB).
If you believe a child or young person is in immediate danger, call your local police force or dial 999.
For online grooming, you can report cases to the National Crime Agency via CEOP.
To report any child abuse images, you can do so by referring to our online safety partner, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF).
If a young person wants to talk someone in complete confidence, they can contact the ChildLine on 0800 1111.
How can Impero Education Pro detect cases of online sexual exploitation?
With keyword detection, real-time monitoring, and activity logs, the online safety features included in Impero Education Pro are designed to help Designated Safeguarding Leads (DSL), teaching staff and Senior Leadership Teams (SLT) fulfil their legal obligations and keep students safe.
With keyword libraries including grooming, sexual assault, suicide and self-harm, staff are able to intervene and offer counter-narratives to help young people arrive at a more positive outcome through receiving direct help and support.
Don’t forget to tweet us at @ImperoSoftware using the hashtag #CSEDay18 to raise awareness for child sexual exploitation.