Help us unite against child sexual exploitation – that’s the message coming from the North Yorkshire Safeguarding Children Board (NYSCB) and its partners as they get ready to support a national campaign to protect the county’s children and young people.
Sunday 18 March is national Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Awareness Day and its aim is to highlight the issues surrounding CSE in Britain today by encouraging everyone to think about, spot and speak out against abuse.
This means adopting a zero tolerance to adults developing inappropriate relationships with children, or children developing inappropriate relationships with other children. In North Yorkshire, support for the national campaign will continue into the following week, with a focus on asking parents and carers to think about how their children use the internet, and encouraging families to talk about what they look at and do online.
“Child sexual exploitation is a form of sexual abuse that involves the manipulation of children and young people under the age of 18 into sexual activity” said County Councillor Janet Sanderson. North Yorkshire County Council’s Executive Member for Children’s Services
“The North Yorkshire Safeguarding Children Board and its partners are committed to the fight against CSE and helping victims and families who are subjected to child sexual exploitation - and we need people across the county to help us do this by showing their support for the national campaign
“One simple way they can do this is by taking the time on Sunday 18 March to write a personal pledge on their hands to show support for the national Helping Hands campaign. Post your photo on social media with the hashtag #HelpingHands and #CSEDay18 to help raise awareness of CSE”.
Working with partners including North Yorkshire Police, health services and the voluntary sector, the Safeguarding Children Board have developed an online quiz for parents, carers and anyone who wants to test their own knowledge about online safety for young people.
Professor Nick Frost, chair of the North Yorkshire Safeguarding Children Board, said “In North Yorkshire we have seen a rise in the use of the internet in a number of child sexual exploitation cases, so we’d like as many people as possible to do the online quiz during CSE week. There are no right or wrong answers to the questions - it’s a quick way of highlighting risks that parents may not know about, and helping direct them to sources of information and advice”
“The manipulation of children for sexual exploitation can occur both online through their smartphone, laptops, desktops, or games consoles, and offline through people they meet in person. It is so important that parents and carers feel able to talk to their children about their online friends, as well as people they meet and interact with”, said Detective Superintendent Allan Harder from North Yorkshire Police
“That’s why we want to empower parents to have these conversations by providing information on popular apps and sites, and potential dangers and pitfalls for the young people using them.
“CSE Awareness day is a great opportunity for us to raise awareness and remind parents to be vigilant about their child’s online safety.”
Supporting the national campaign is part of the wider work the NYSCB and its partners are doing to protect the county’s children and young people from CSE. This includes the Board’s “Say something” campaign that encourages young people to be aware of CSE and not be afraid to speak out when something doesn’t look or feel right by calling or texting free, 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 116 000.