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YMCA WiSE – Parents & Carers

National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day, Sunday 18th March

 As part of National CSE Awareness Day we want to share some key messages with parents and carers so that everyone understands what sexual exploitation looks like and what they can do to help prevent it.

What is Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)
Sexual exploitation is “someone taking advantage of you sexually for their own benefit. Through threats, bribes, violence, humiliation or by telling you that they love you, they will have the power to get you to do sexual things for their own or other people’s enjoyment.” (Nia Project)

CSE is child abuse and the response should be the same as for any other safeguarding concern.

How will I know if my child is at risk of CSE?
Usually a child will not identify that they are a victim of CSE. We all need to be aware of potential vulnerabilities and risk indicators in order to protect children.

What are the signs to look out for?
– Going missing or regularly coming home late;
– Regularly missing school or education;
– Appearing with unexplained gifts or new possessions (often new mobile phones or SIM cards);
– Associating with other children involved in exploitation;
– Having older boyfriends or girlfriends;
– Suffering from sexually transmitted infections;
– Unusual changes in mood or behaviour;
– Drug and alcohol misuse;
– Displaying inappropriate sexualised behaviour;
– Anything that strikes you as a concern—you know your child.

If you are concerned about your child or a child in your care please contact your local support service.  Your concerns will be taken seriously.  All organisations have a shared responsibility to protect, safeguard and promote the welfare of children who may be/are being sexually exploited.

What can I do to help?
– Talk to your children about healthy relationships and consent – there are loads of resources around to help you start these sometimes tricky conversations.  There are some links in these web pages;
– Learn about the risks that your child may face online and take practical steps to minimise these;
– Children who are being sexually exploited need persistence, patience and consistency.
– If you are concerned about a child or a situation say something!

My child is over the age of 16, is there anything I can do?
There are laws to protect children up to the age of 18 from CSE.   Even when they reach the age of 16 a child cannot consent to exploitation. Consent means having the freedom and capacity to choose.  Exploitation removes the freedom.  And anybody under the influence of drugs or alcohol does not have the capacity to consent to sexual activity.

Can WiSE work with me?
YMCA WiSE works specifically with children and young people rather than parents and carers.  However we will always do our best to support parents and carers in other ways; by directing them to appropriate services, providing useful links and resources, listening to their concerns, liaising with them where appropriate.  We stick to an information sharing and confidentiality agreement which states that we will only share information about the work we are doing with a child or young person with their agreement, unless there is a safeguarding or criminal issue, in which case we will contact children’s services or the police.  We cannot share information with you about your child without their consent.

How do I report my concerns?
If you suspect anyone is in immediate danger, call the Police on 999. If a child/young person is currently at risk of significant harm, including from CSE, refer immediately to your local Children’s Services:

East Sussex Single Point of Advice (SPOA) team: 01323 464222
Opening hours: Monday to Thursday 8.30am to 5pm, Friday 8.30am to 4.30pm

Brighton and Hove Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH): 01273 290400
Opening hours: Monday to Thursday 8.30am to 5pm, Friday 8.30am to 4.30pm

Surrey Local Referral, Intervention and Assessment Services:
North East area – Spelthorne, Elmbridge and Epsom & Ewell: 0300 123 1610
South East area – Mole Valley, Reigate & Banstead and Tandridge: 0300 123 1620
North West area – Runnymede, Surrey Heath and Woking: 0300 123 1630
South West area – Guildford & Waverley : 0300 123 1640
Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm

Useful links and resources
Sussex Police: information on CSE and how to report
PACE UK: Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation. Offers support, advice and information to parents, carers and families of sexually exploited young people.  They have an advice centre, run a parents forum and networking days and offer one to one support.
Missing People: Offers advice, support and help for anyone who goes missing and their loved ones left behind.  Runaway Helpline – call or text 116 000 – it’s free, confidential, 24/7
NSPCC’s Net aware: Up to date information on current apps/social media sites.  Also links to main NSPCC site with loads more information and resources.
Think You Know: Resources focusing on internet and new technologies by CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre).
Dove Self Esteem Project: Self esteem toolkits & resources