Children’s charity the NSPCC is calling people in Peterborough to help lift the lid on the hidden crime of child sexual exploitation following the publication of a report into the issue today.
The NSPCC has been supporting children in Peterborough who’ve been sexually exploited or are at risk, through its Protect and Respect service.
The charity wants to raise awareness of the signs so that more children and young people who are being subjected to this shocking form of abuse can get the support they need to break the cycle.
Nick Edwards, the Manager for the NSPCC Service Centre in Peterborough, explained: “Child sexual exploitation is a type of sexual abuse where children are sexually exploited for money, power or status.
“Children or young people can be tricked into believing they are in a loving relationship and that the perpetrator is their boyfriend or girlfriend. They are often given drugs and alcohol. They may also be groomed online.
“Some children and young people are trafficked into the country purely to be sexually exploited. Sexual exploitation can also happen to young people in gangs. Sexual exploitation can happen to any young person – whatever their background, age, gender, race or sexuality or wherever they live.”
It is impossible to know exactly how many children are affected as there is no specific law against child sexual exploitation. Offenders are often convicted of related offences such as sexual activity with a child.
Sexual exploitation can be very difficult to identify and most warning signs can be mistaken for ‘normal’ teenage behaviour. Young people who are being sexually exploited may:
* Be involved in abusive relationships, intimidated and fearful of certain people or situations
* Hang out with groups of older people, or antisocial groups, or with other vulnerable peers
* Associate with other young people involved in sexual exploitation
* Get involved in gangs, gang fights, gang membership
* Have older boyfriends or girlfriends
* Spend time at places of concern, such as hotels or known brothels
* Not know where they are, because they have been moved around the country
* Go missing from home, care or education.
If any of these symptoms sounds familiar, the NSPCC urges people to get in touch with their helpline to report their concerns. Call 0808 800 5000 and speak to a professional counsellor 24/7, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.nspcc.org.uk.