Friday 18 March marks National Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Awareness Day, a day when police forces, local authorities, health services and other partners unite behind a common goal of educating the public about CSE including potential signs to spot and most importantly, how to report it and ensure that young people get the support they deserve.
What is CSE? CSE is a form of abuse where children and young people are sexually exploited for something, such as food, accommodation, cigarettes, drugs, affection, gifts or money. It can take a number of forms; by adults, groups, or other young people. It can happen online and in person. The abuser may or may not use violence, but they will control and manipulate their victim. Any child or young person could be a potential CSE victim, regardless of their gender, social background, ethnicity, religion or circumstance.
What should I be looking out for? Sexual abuse can be very difficult to identify. The victims are not at fault, and sometimes are not even aware it is happening. Here are a few examples of the variety of signs and symptoms a child who is being sexually exploited may show:
- Becoming withdrawn, anxious, aggressive or clingy
- Going missing and/or regularly returning home late
- Secrecy around use of mobile phones or the internet
- Physical signs of abuse such as bruising
- Appearing with unexplained gifts such as mobile phones or clothing
- Problems with school work or truancy
- Alcohol and substance misuse
- Promiscuity or becoming sexually active at a young age.
You can find more on the National Working Group for CSE’s website. What should I do if I suspect a child is at risk of CSE?
- If you are concerned about a child but you don’t think they are in immediate danger, call 101 and ask to speak to the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH).
- If you know or suspect a child is in immediate danger, call 999 straight away.
Knowing or suspecting that a child is being sexually abused can be incredibly traumatic. We understand that reporting your concerns is not easy, particularly when the abuser may be someone that you know and trust. However, to protect the child, it is vital that you do speak out. Find out more The Wiltshire Police website contains more information on CSE including links to other organisations and charities that can provide guidance advice and support about child sexual exploitation.
This information is via Wiltshire and Swindon Community Messaging. This information has been sent on behalf of Wiltshire Police