Child exploitation harms not just children and young people, but also their parents and/or carers, and those close to them
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As we continue to raise awareness of child exploitation this week, we wanted to take the opportunity to highlight the impact child exploitation (CE) can have, not just on children and young people who may be victims of CE, but also their parents, carers, wider families and friends.
The constant worry and fear, and sometimes feelings of guilt associated with wanting to keep a child or young person safe, coupled with feelings of uncertainty around what to do, can be overwhelming and have a negative impact on one’s emotional resilience. There may also be a sense of felling lost and alone, unsure as to where to go for help but if you are feeling like this, don’t suffer in silence – you are not alone and there is help and support available.
This is why Barnardo’s will be hosting two webinars for adults coping with issues surrounding CE. The first one is at 7pm this evening (Tuesday, 16 March) and the second at 7pm on Thursday evening (18 March). Both sessions will focus on mental wellbeing and emotional resilience to help support you and equip you with the coping mechanisms needed when faced with CE. They will also be hosting a Facebook Live Q&A session at 7pm on Wednesday (17 March) for the public to pose any questions they may have to Child Exploitation professionals*.
A case study of a young person who became a victim of exploitation is featured here:
"I’d never even heard of the word exploitation until people started saying that’s what was happening to me. I didn’t believe a word of it. I kept thinking why are they interfering and why can’t people just be happy that I’ve got some new mates that actually bother with me.
"To begin with I thought it was well good that they were a bit older. When I look back now I can see they preyed on me. They made me feel so loved and cared for. Like I was the best thing in the world. Then bad things started happening and I just felt trapped. I felt as though I had no way out.
"Luckily that’s when professionals around me starting noticing stuff that worried them and I was given a support worker. For all this time I felt too scared to say anything. I was so scared I would get in to trouble or that something bad would happen to my family and I couldn’t see a way out.
"With support I was able to understand that these ‘so called’ mates weren’t my mates after all and they were just using me. They helped me see that none of this was my fault. I’ve come a pretty decent way since back then and whilst I still have bad days, I’ve got such good support around me and I’ll always be grateful for that."
If you are a parent or carer who wants to learn more about child exploitation, how to spot the signs and how to get help if you're worried, then there's lots of information to help you on the new Warwickshire Something’s Not Right CE website:
• Learn about the different types of exploitation so that you understand it better: somethingsnotright.co.uk/what-is-exploitation/
• Learn how to spot the signs of exploitation: somethingsnotright.co.uk/spot-the-signs/
For support and advice, get in touch:
• If you are worried about a child or young person, contact the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub between 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, on 01926 414144.
• You can also make a report to Warwickshire Police via their website or by calling 101, or you can contact your local Children and Family Centre.
• Contact Crimestoppers confidentially and anonymously on 0800 555 111.
• You can talk to trained counsellors on the 24-hour helplines run by ChildLine on 0800 11 11 and the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000
The new Something’s Not Right website is packed full of information and resources around Child Exploitation, including the different types of exploitation, what signs to look for in a child or young person, and what support is available if you or someone you know may be a victim of child exploitation. The website also features some powerful real life stories about victims of CE.
*If you would be interested in attending one of the webinars or the live Facebook Q&A session, register your interest via the following:
• Webinar – 7pm on Tuesday and Thursday (both sessions are the same so please only register for one)
• Facebook Live Q&A session