Agencies in Bedfordshire are encouraging everyone to think, spot, and speak out against child abuse, ahead of the National Awareness Day for Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) this week.
The awareness raising day, on Wednesday, March 18, has been arranged by the charity National Working Group, to highlight the issues surrounding CSE.
Detective Inspector Iain Morgan, who heads up the CSE Unit for Bedfordshire Police, said: “Child sexual exploitation is a type of child abuse in which children are sexually exploited for money, power or status.
“Any child can be sexually exploited – no matter what culture, ethnicity, religion, or gender so it’s incredibly important that we are all aware of the signs of CSE so that we can stop it happening as soon as possible and identify those responsible.
“We work closely with partner agencies across the county to identify those who may be at risk but, by recognising the signs, everyone can have a part to play in tackling this type of crime and helping us to protect people from harm.”
Signs that a young person is being sexually exploited can include a change in behaviour, receiving unexplained gifts or money, regularly being missing or absent from school and home, and hanging out with a gang or people of an older age group.
In March 2013, a CSE Panel was set up in Bedfordshire in order for agencies to share information about potential or recognised risks, reduce the risk of harm, and ensure young people have access to multi-agency support.
Police and Crime Commissioner Ollie Martins said: “CSE is an incredibly important issue and one of our top priorities. We’re determined to work with our partner agencies to tackle those responsible, bring them to justice, and protect the young people of Bedfordshire.”
Cllr Sue Oliver, Executive Member for Children’s Social Care, at Bedford Borough Council said: “There is no greater responsibility than keeping young people safe. We would like to outline that safeguarding is everyone’s business. Together, we can help to make sure those that are vulnerable to abuse are kept safe from harm. We recently supported a production called ‘Chelsea’s Choice’ on this subject, which was very well received by students across the borough. By talking about this topic and sharing information on the signs of abuse, we will most certainly help to reduce the impact of this devastating crime.”
Representatives from Bedfordshire Police will be supporting and speaking at a conference run by Bedford Borough council for schools on ‘Delivering Safeguarding through the PSHE Education Curriculum with a focus on Child Sexual Exploitation’.
Throughout the day Bedfordshire Police will be supporting the #helpinghands social media campaign throughout the day, as well as sharing information about CSE using #CSEday2015.
Follow them on Twitter @bedspolice
Visit www.bedfordshire.police.uk to find out more about CSE.
For more about CSE Day, visit www.stop-cse.org