Would you know signs of child sexual exploitation?

Devon and Cornwall Police has launched a new campaign which aims to raise awareness, among parents, teachers and carers, of the warning signs that a child may be at risk of becoming or is already a victim of child sexual exploitation. 

Child sexual exploitation is a form of sexual abuse in which a young person is manipulated or forced into taking part in a sexual act, often in return for attention, affection, or gifts.

The young person might think that their abuser is their friend, but the abuser might threaten them or become violent towards them. The abuser will try to control the young person and isolate them from friends and family.

Both young males and young females are at risk and children as young as ten years old may be targeted and groomed.

Detective Inspector, Andrea Kingdon, said, “Educating parents, teachers and carers about the signs of child sexual exploitation is an essential part of our strategy for preventing this type of crime.  Young people may display clear signs that something is amiss or has changed in their lives and that they may be vulnerable.  We hope that by raising awareness among key adults in children’s lives, crimes can be prevented and young people protected.

“Tragically, some young people aren’t aware that what is happening to them isn’t normal, so they are either unable or unwilling to extract themselves from an abusive or exploitative situation.  Adult intervention, be it from a parent, trusted teacher or carer at an early stage can help put victims and potential victims back on the right track.”

Anne Billington, Head Teacher at Offwell Primary School near Honiton, added, “It is a sad reality that primary school-aged children are at risk of sexual exploitation. We recognise the importance of educating teachers and parents about the warning signs of CSE, so that action can be taken to safeguard our children as early as possible.  It is essential that agencies work closely together. We welcome this initiative by Devon and Cornwall Police.”

Devon and Corwnall Police is working with partner agencies across the region to distribute information to educate people about the signs and behavioural changes a young person may exhibit if being abused or exploited.

For further information, help and support about CSE visit: www.devon-cornwall.police.uk/CSE