Future Voices: Tackling child sexual exploitation

Future Voices. Pictured: Child Sexual Exploitation. Picture: Supplied

Future Voices. Pictured: Child Sexual Exploitation. Picture: Supplied - Credit: Supplied

CSE is a major child protection issue for communities, not only here in the UK but throughout the world. It is something that often goes unnoticed by even those who are closest to the young girls and boys who are groomed, then abused; inflicting scars that can last for the young person's entire life.

Child sexual exploitation is illegal activity, whereby an older person uses the power they have over the younger individual, in order to sexually abuse them. More specifically this can involve a range of acts from seemingly 'consensual' sexual relationships, where the young person is exploited in exchange for things like money, power or status.

There are a number of warning signs that everyone should be on the lookout for when it comes to CSE; these include living in a chaotic or dysfunctional household (including parental substance use, domestic violence, parental mental health issues, and parental criminality); being unsure about their sexual orientation or unable to disclose sexual orientation to their families; lacking friends from the same age group, or having low self-esteem or self-confidence.

Some potential behavioural changes in those who are being sexually exploited include:

?Missing from home or care;

?Physical injuries;

?Drug or alcohol misuse;

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?Involvement in offending;

?Repeat sexually-transmitted infections, pregnancy and terminations;

?Absent from school;

?Evidence of sexual bullying and/or vulnerability through the internet and/or social networking sites;

?Isolated from their family;

?Receipt of gifts from unknown sources;

?Recruiting others into exploitative situations;

?Poor mental health;

?Self-harm;

?Thoughts of or attempts at suicide.

We should all remember that child sexual exploitation is something that is important to stop as soon as it arises, so as to minimise the impact it has on the life of the young person being victimised.

What you should do: If you think the child or vulnerable adult is at risk of child sexual exploitation in Norfolk and want to speak to someone, contact the MASH on 0344 800 8020.

The ROSE Campaign (Reaching Out On Sexual Exploitation) is a registered charity that can also help.

Harvey, 19, from Norwich

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