Organisations across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough are showing their hands in support of a national campaign to highlight child sexual exploitation (CSE).
To mark the NWG Network National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day tomorrow (March 18), Cambridgeshire Constabulary along with the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Local Safeguarding Boards and other partners, are encouraging everyone to think, spot, speak out against abuse and adopt a zero tolerance to adults developing inappropriate relationships with children.
Last year (2016) police dealt with 191 offences of CSE compared to 140 the previous (2015). Around 35 per cent of the offences took place online and the Constabulary is encouraging young people to protect themselves by thinking before sharing explicit images online or via text.
CSE is a form of sexual abuse that involves the manipulation and/or coercion of young people under the age of 18 into sexual activity. Any child can be sexually exploited no matter what culture, ethnicity, religion, whether a boy or a girl from any background.
Signs include receiving unexpected gifts or money, using their phone secretly, hanging out with older people and changes in appearance.
Detective Inspector Claire Hewson said: “CSE remains a priority for the force and we’re pleased to support this national awareness day. It’s the responsibility of everyone to recognise the warning signs and know what to do when they are worried about the safety of a young person.
“By joining with the NWG Network and local partner agencies, we can raise awareness of CSE nationwide and reach a network of friends family and social groups.”
Sexual Exploitation Co-ordinator for the Peterborough Safeguarding Boards said: “I’d like to thank the students of Stanground Academy, who were keen to support this awareness raising. It’s important that young people are aware that they can talk about the issue and know they will be believed and supported.”
Police and Crime Commissioner, Jason Ablewhite added: “Child sexual exploitation is everyone’s business. I hope today will send a strong message encouraging everyone to think, spot and speak out against abuse.”
To support the awareness day, share your pledge, which can be anything from speaking out to educating others and upload it to social media using the hashtag #helpinghands.