I spent yesterday evening undertaking school governor training to recognise and tackle Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE). This is an important issue, not just for schools but society as whole. Tackling CSE is everybody’s business.
Schools naturally lead in identifying CSE because children are with them more than most other agencies, but taxi drivers, police, health care professionals are amongst many groups who have undertaken some sort of training.
What is CSE?
The NSPCC defines CSE as ‘a type of sexual abuse. Children in exploitative situations and relationships receive something such as gifts, money or affection as a result of performing sexual activities or others performing sexual activities on them.’
It is important school governors know how children are safe at their schools and how being safe is taught in classes, appropriate to every year group. Barnardo’s claim that CSE is the biggest child protection issue in this country for over 10’s. However, I have to say that professionals now feel this age should be reduced to those over 7/8 years of age.
An interesting cartoon video shown to young children to learn how to be safe was shown. This is called ‘Lee and Kim’s Adventure’. It is well worth watching and is not scary. It does though show easy prey some children can be: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-nMUbHuffO8 . On that page are also some other resources you may wish to look at to see if they are appropriate for your children).
Another short video clip was from Dr Helen Beckett, from University of Bedfordshire. An introduction and ten key facts about CSE can be viewed on this link: http://childhub.org/en/child-protection-multimedia-resources/10-key-facts-about-child-sexual-exploitation-dr-helen-beckett . This video is so accessible and a great tool to help the reader understand the issues.
A quite telling video was ‘Emma’s Story’. This naturally uses actors to tell a true story in the West Yorkshire Police area. It is not visually graphic but the messages may upset you, so do not view if you may feel you will be upset: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnTYFeZNLkQ
In Solihull we undertake to PREVENT, PROTECT AND PURSUE. We have identified a number of people at risk and are supporting them. CSE affects both genders and the age group 12-13 years is often when it starts (but can be younger). It happens to all ethnicities and communities but some groups are disproportionately affected, these are: Looked after children (in care), Children leaving care and children with learning difficulties. A report I must read is entitled ‘Unprotected, Overprotected’. cse_learning_disabilities_15_executive_summary The report reveals that significant numbers of children with learning disabilities are not being adequately protected from sexual exploitation because of the false perception that they do not need sex and relationships education or accessible information about how to keep safe online and in the community. This is why, as chair of governor of two Solihull special schools I need to ensure we are doing everything we should/can. I have every confidence we are (both schools are grade Outstanding by Ofsted, but we need to know how and where we are doing this.
Indicators of Concern:
- Regularly missing from school
- Going missing for periods of time or regularly coming home late
- Associating with other young people who are being sexually exploited
- Older boyfriend/girlfriends
- Displaying inappropriate sexualised behaviour
- Sexually transmitted or urinary tract infections
- Appearing with unexplained gifts or possessions
- Mood swings, changes to emotional wellbeing
- Drug or alcohol misuse.
This list is not endless and just because one of these factors does not mean CSE is evident.
What can you do about it?
If you suspect a child is being sexually exploited contact the police or the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board (LSCB). Lots more information, even how to report on-line can be found on their website: http://www.solihulllscb.co.uk/
Why not share this post at your work, especially if you meetings where other business is accepted. Remember, tackling Child Sexual Exploitation is Everybodoy’s Business.