Child Exploitation is happening in Warwickshire – don’t ignore it
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WCC alongside its partners is pledging to parents, carers, professionals and the wider community to take responsibility to learn about child exploitation, understand how to spot the signs and know how to report it. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and children and young people spending much more time at home, child exploitation is still taking place in many forms.
Child exploitation is the manipulation and/or coercion of young people under the age of 18. It can manifest itself in different forms, including child abuse, sexual exploitation, county lines drug dealing, human trafficking and online grooming. It is a crime that can affect any child anywhere, anytime regardless of their social or ethnic background or whether they are a boy or a girl. Hundreds of children and young people are victims of child exploitation every year in Warwickshire.
Friends, parents, carers – what you can do to help:
Learn about the different types of exploitation so that you understand it better
Know the signs - warning signs of exploitation include unexplained gifts, unexplained changes in behaviour or personality, changes in physical appearance such as weight loss, being absent from school, going missing, or being overly familiar with friends that you don’t know.
If you think someone you know is being exploited, report it to help and protect that child or young person - your observations and phone call could make all the difference to an exploited child.
During Child Exploitation Awareness week, there will also be a number of activities taking place including two webinars for parents at 7pm on Tuesday and Thursday evening, focusing on mental health and emotional resilience, along with a Facebook Live Q&A session at 7pm on Wednesday for the public to pose any questions they may around CE to experts from Barnardo’s*.
The new Something’s Not Right website is also 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.
The website also places a strong emphasis on training and raising awareness in the community, offering targeted training to schools, health organisations, taxi drivers and commercial premises such as hotels, pubs, and clubs. There are also downloadable assets available for businesses and professionals to share on their own social media channels and in their premises.
Elaine Coleridge, Chair of Warwickshire Safeguarding, added:
“It is crucial that we all unite against child exploitation for National Child Exploitation Awareness Day and beyond. If you see something that doesn’t look right, please don’t ignore it. We all have a responsibility to protect children and young people.
“We are encouraging everyone to think, spot and speak out against abuse and adopt a zero tolerance to adults developing inappropriate relationships with children.
Detective Inspector Lisa Sears, Strategic Vulnerability and Safeguarding Lead for Warwickshire Police, said: "Together with our partners we are committed to protecting children from harm, which is why we have launched the new Something’s Not Right website to help inform, educate and prevent child exploitation.
“Individuals who abuse and exploit children pose a significant risk to our society. We will continue to identify and pursue them through the criminal justice system at every opportunity.
"Child Exploitation can affect young people from all walks of life, there is no stereotypical victim of exploitation but there are warning signs in children's behaviour that may indicate something's not right. It is important that everyone can recognise these warning signs and know where to turn to for help so that interventions can be put in place at the earliest opportunity.
"If people know what to look out for they can take steps to help. Helping a child who is being exploited is everyone’s responsibility. We all have a part to play in protecting children and young people. Everyone in society has a responsibility to do all they can to protect vulnerable young people."
Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe said: “We are committed to raising awareness and training professionals to help them understand how to prevent child exploitation happening. This work will ensure that as many people as possible think, spot and speak out about exploitation of the young and vulnerable and help heal the wounds of victims and their families.”
Follow Warwickshire CE on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Please follow, like and share posts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to widely share important content on warning signs, advice and how to report concerns all week alongside our usual awareness raising content.
*If you would be interested in attending one of the webinars or the live Facebook Q&A session, register your interest by emailing [email protected]
Webinar – 7pm on Tuesday and Thursday (both sessions are the same so please only register for one)
Facebook Live Q&A session
Where to go for help and support
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
If someone is in immediate danger, call the police on 999