By Karen Dickinson
March 18th was National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day, which aims to educate and inform people on the issues surrounding child sexual exploitation, or CSE. The Stop CSE website explains CSE as a ‘form of abuse that involves the manipulation and/or coercion of young people under 18 into sexual activity.’ It is the received wisdom that the majority of those victimised are ‘looked after’ children (those who are living in the care of a local authority for more than 24 hours), but this isn’t the case; ‘looked after’ children only make up 20-25% of those victimised. Young people living at home are also vulnerable, especially as they might not be known to social services and are less likely to be identified as being at risk. Children are sexually exploited in many different ways such as online, through gangs, in schools or religious environments and by people in positions of authority, including celebrities. The Stop CSE website says that ‘the common theme in all cases is the imbalance of power and the control exerted on young people by the exploiter/perpetrator’.
National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day is an opportunity for the world to come together and highlight the issues surrounding CSE. The day aims to encourage people to think, spot and speak out about abuse, as well as adopting a zero tolerance approach to adults developing inappropriate relationships with children, or children developing inappropriate relationships with other children. Charity NWG Network are behind the campaign and are asking people to get involved and show their support in a number of ways. You can join in the Helping Hands campaign and show your support by writing a personal pledge on your hands and sharing it via social media with the hashtags #HelpingHands and #CSEDay2017. You can also help to raise awareness by displaying posters and banners, which can be downloaded from the Stop CSE website, or you can make a donation by texting ‘Voice’ to 70007 and making a £3 pledge towards this vital charity.