Child Exploitation Awareness Day – 18th March 2021
18th March 2021
Police team up with local project helping victims of child exploitation and City College students for awareness day
Norfolk Constabulary, The Rose Project (part of the Magdalene Group) and City College Norwich are highlighting the signs of exploitation during National Child Exploitation Awareness (CEA) Day which takes place today, Thursday 18 March 2021.
The campaign highlights issues surrounding Child Exploitation (CE) and aims to encourage people to look out for signs of exploitation and speak out about it in support of victims.
The Rose Project in Norfolk supports children and young people who have been sexually exploited, or are at risk of being sexually exploited. Both the Rose Project and Norfolk Constabulary recently featured in a film produced by young people at City College Norwich addressing the dangers of online exploitation.
The short documentary was produced by Olivia Carrick, Jake Dye and George Davy, who are on the college’s Media Learning Company course.
Child exploitation is abuse, including sexual abuse, involving children under the age of 18 being coerced or manipulated into sexual or criminal activity with adults or older children. It happens both in the real world and online.
CE can affect any child, anytime, anywhere, regardless of their social or ethnic background. It involves offenders grooming children and young people and using their power to abuse them. It can take many forms:
- a seemingly ‘consensual’ relationship with an older boyfriend/girlfriend
- a young person having sex in return for attention, gifts, alcohol, cigarettes or drugs
- non-contact abuse such as victims being persuaded to send explicit images of themselves via phone (known as ‘sexting’) or online
Offenders use emotional, financial or physical power over the child to abuse them, violence and intimidation are often used. For example, children can be given gifts, money, alcohol or drugs in exchange for sexual activity with the abuser, or made to take part in criminal activity.
NWG (National Working Group), a charitable organisation formed as a UK network of over 10,000 practitioners, is behind Child Exploitation Awareness Day. They are committed to the fight against CE and support victims and their families who are have been subjected to child exploitation.
Norfolk Constabulary and the Rose Project invite you to support this day of awareness raising and is taking to social media to bring home the message using the hashtags #HelpingHands and #CEADay21. We invite you to write a personal pledge on your hands to show support for the Helping Hands campaign. Post your photo of your hand and supporting message on social media with the hashtag #HelpingHands and #CEADay21 to help us raise awareness of CSE and wider exploitation.
Andy Coller, head of safeguarding, said: “Child exploitation can take many forms, but in all cases somebody will seek to exploit an imbalance of power in order to get something they want from a young person. They do this by either seeking out or creating a vulnerability and will then use this to gain control. One of the things we can do to combat child exploitation is to raise awareness of the problem, which is what this day is all about. If people are aware of the signs then they might become more suspicious as to who this person is, why they are showing such interest and ultimately what they might want.
Suzi Heybourne, CEO of the Magdalene Group, said: “CSE is a hidden crime and perpetrators use many tactics to groom and exploit children and young people. We support children and young people to understand their experiences and equip them with knowledge to understand exploitation, their rights about consent and healthy relationships. We focus on supporting children and young people to understand that they are not to blame for what has happened to them and to move on with their lives, whatever that looks like for them.”
City College Norwich student Olivia Carrick, 19, one of the co-presenters in the short film, said: “I learnt that child exploitation is very prevalent. It is something that happens regularly and it can happen in so many more ways than you might think. It was interesting to learn about as well as troubling.”
Jake Dye, 18, who mainly worked on the editing of the documentary, adds: “I hope that other young people watching the film will see that child exploitation can happen to anyone, that no one is really safe from it. It’s important to protect yourself as much as you can and be aware of the signs that someone could have harmful intentions.”
George Davy, 18, who co-presented and wrote the script, commented: “’The documentary has provided me with the insight to delve into sensitive topics in order to better prepare me for my future career in journalism.”
Deb McCormick, Manager of the Rose project said: “As a service over the past year we have seen an increase in online exploitation referrals, some as young as primary school age are being groomed, coerced and forced to do sexual things such as sending indecent images or doing sexual things over webcam. Children and young people are spending more time online, and perpetrators are aware of this. Once they have established contact exploitation can occur very quickly threats of violence can silence victims from seeking help.”
Anyone with concerns about child exploitation can call Norfolk Constabulary on 101 or 999 in an emergency.
Warning signs to look out for:
- Staying out late or periods of going missing overnight or longer
- Older ‘boyfriend/girlfriend’ or relationship with a controlling adult
- Physical injury without plausible explanation
- Entering or leaving vehicles driven by unknown adults
- Unexplained amounts of money, expensive clothing or other items
- Sudden change in who they are friends with
- Lack of engagement with education
- Drugs or alcohol misuse or self-harm
- Unusual or increased use of mobile phone and/or the internet that causes concern
For more information on the day visit: http://www.stop-cse.org/national-child-exploitation-awareness-day/
Help and support
Whether you are an adult concerned about the welfare of a child you know, or if you are a child who is upset about something that is happening to you, there is help and support available. Talk to an adult you know well and trust, if you don’t have anyone you can talk to, call ChildLine for free 0800 1111 or online via www.childline.org.uk
If you are concerned you are being exploited online report directly to CEOP via www.ceop.police.uk/safety-centre (you can report this anonymously)
For more information about online exploitation visit CEOP ‘Thinkuknow’ website at: https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/
https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/parents/ for more information
If you are concerned about someone’s behaviour towards your child, you can report this directly to CEOP via www.ceop.police.uk/safety-centre
Parents can visit Child Sexual Exploitation | Norfolk Constabulary for further information and links to support and advice services
Contact ‘Parents against Child Sexual Exploitation (PACE)’ helpline 0113 240 3040.
Find out more about the services provided by the Rose Project and link to their booklet for children and young people about CSE: