Monday 18th March is the fifth annual National Stop CSE day, which aims to raise awareness around the issue of CSE.
Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) is an issue that more and more people are becoming aware of and this can only be a positive given how many young people CSE affects. For people who don’t know what CSE is and how it might affect them (or those close to them) hopefully this article may provide some insight.
Being aware of the risks of CSE, the signs to look out for and what to do if you have been affected, or if you suspect that someone you care for has been affected, are important tools in trying to prevent or limit the damage caused by CSE. Without intervention, CSE can ruin the lives of the children involved and their families.
What is CSE?
It is a form of sexual, emotional and physical abuse of children. It can happen to girls and boys. A key aspect of CSE is ‘grooming’ the child. This might involve the child receiving a gift (mobile phone, drugs, alcohol, and clothing) and in return performing sexual acts or having sexual acts performed upon them. It can involve the use of technology and can also involve violence or the threat of violence.
The people carrying out the CSE can be an adult or even another young person. They can be male or female and of any ethnicity.
Who is at risk?
All children could be at risk. However, there are certain factors that increase the risk of a child being affected. Those who may be at a higher risk of CSE include children in care, those who have been previously sexually abused, children in their teens, those with ‘gang’ associations, those children who are socially isolated, those who may have alcohol, drug or substance misuse issues, and children who truant from school. This is not an exhaustive list and it is important not to become complacent.
Where does CSE happen?
Children can be targeted online or in person. For those who are targeted in person, this is likely to take place in areas where young people meet without adult supervision. For example, in shopping centres, cafes, arcades, parks, bus stations, cinemas, taxi ranks or take away outlets.
Signs of CSE perpetrated online are in many ways much harder to monitor. Things to be alert to would be children who suddenly have a new or expensive mobile device and children who are secretive about what they do online. Children can be persuaded or forced to send sexually explicit images of themselves, take part in sexual activities via a webcam or smartphone or have sexual conversations online.
What can I do?
Be alert to the signs of CSE and if you think a child is at risk then look for professional help. The NSPCC, ChildLine, Parents against Child Sexual Exploitation (PACE) and the NHS all have good websites with lots of easily accessible information. You can also report it to the police and they can investigate further if necessary.
Prevention is better than cure…..
As with most things in life, prevention is better than cure. By this we mean that trying to raise awareness around the issue of CSE, and educating society about what the tell-tale signs may be, can hopefully help to reduce the number of young people affected by CSE.
Increasing the awareness in the general population about CSE can only be a good thing. Many organisations dealing with child protection issues provide links to websites and posters etc. which pinpoint what to look for.
Parents, carers, guardians and teachers need to ensure that all children are given age appropriate education regarding their personal and sexual relationships. This will assist and guide children and young people on the importance of developing healthy, trusting and secure relationships and will also address what constitutes a violent, abusive and controlling relationship. This will hopefully ensure that these young people then go on to make better choices about their personal and sexual relationships.
We hope that this year’s CSE awareness day will reach an even greater audience than that in previous years. It is through raising the awareness of CSE that we as a society can help to reduce the numbers of children and young people affected by it; and that for those who have sadly been involved in CSE that we can give them the confidence, belief and strength to report what has happened.
The child abuse department at Switalskis solicitors represent numerous survivors of CSE in relation to claims against the local authority, the police force and the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority. We have vast experience in helping those who have been affected by child abuse achieve justice.
If you would like confidential advice regarding CSE then please email the child abuse claims team or telephone us on 0800 138 4700. We have both male and female solicitors available to help.
Useful contact details if you are concerned that a child may be at risk of CSE:
Tel: 0808 800 5000
Helpline for parents who are concerned that their child is being sexually exploited by someone outside the family: 0113 240 5226