On Friday 18 March we will be supporting the National Child Exploitation Awareness Day.
The day aims to highlight the issues surrounding Child Exploitation. The day is encouraging everyone to think, spot and speak out against abuse and adopt a zero tolerance to adults developing inappropriate relationships with children or children exploiting and abusing their peers.
What is Child Exploitation?
Child exploitation is a form of abuse that involves the manipulation or coercion of a young person under the age of eighteen.
The North Yorkshire Safeguarding Children Partnership explains that when a child or young person is exploited, they’re groomed by being given things like gifts, drugs, money, status and affection. This is usually in exchange for carrying out a criminal activity, known as Child Criminal Exploitation or performing sexual activities, known as Child Sexual Exploitation.
Spotting the Signs of Child Exploitation
Children are groomed and exploited in different ways. It is important for everyone to recognise the signs of abuse and speak out if they are concerned about a young person.
Signs of child exploitation could include a young person:
- Going missing from home or a place of education
- Travelling to new locations where they have no obvious connections
- Spending more time online and being secretive about their online activity
- Changing their hygiene habits
- Gaining new possessions or clothes without an obvious reason
- Changing their friendship group
- Using drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism
You can download the National Working Group (NWG) posters in English and Welsh to help raise awareness of the signs of child exploitation.
The NWG website also has further details about the signs of child criminal and sexual exploitation.
Speaking Out: How do I Report a Concern
If you see something suspicious, it is important that you say something. Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility.
If you are concerned a young person is at risk of child exploitation you should:
- Call the Police on 101 to report your concern
- Call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111
- Contact the NSPCC helpline. You can also encourage young people to contact the NSPCC if they need support.
If you are concerned a child or young person could be in immediate danger, call the Police on 999.
- The Children’s Society has published a guide about spotting the signs and speaking out against criminal exploitation
- North Yorkshire Safeguarding Children Partnership explain the different types of exploitation and how to report your concerns.
- The National Working Group have produced a detailed sway resource to help you learn more about child exploitation. Please share on social media to support Child Exploitation Day.