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Child Sexual Exploitation Is Everyone’s Business

Catherine Arkley is chair of the local charity Safe and Sound, which specialises in grassroots work across Derbyshire that transforms the lives of children and young people who are victims or are at risk of child sexual exploitation (CSE).  They support individuals to move forward with their lives and raise awareness of the issue amongst local communities.

“Despite many high profile prosecutions, there was still a long way to go to make people fully aware of the dangers facing children and young people in local communities across Derbyshire.

A key part of our work is to offer awareness sessions to youth and community groups about child sexual exploitation – thanks to funding from Children in Need.  These sessions highlight the issue and the warning signs that young people, parents and carers should be alert to.

Child Sexual Exploitation (commonly referred to as CSE) is a form of child sexual abuse and takes many different forms from rape and sexual assault to online grooming and encouraging children to share inappropriate images of themselves.

The key factor is that individuals or groups take advantage of young people by manipulating or deceiving them into sexual activity in exchange for something the victim needs or wants.

This could range from money and alcohol to less tangible things such as the attention that they crave at a vulnerable time in their lives.

Regardless of exchange, these children and young people are victims of manipulation, coercion and, in many cases, threats if they turn to anyone for help.

Similarly, young people themselves may not realise they are being groomed and regard abuse as a loving relationship. Nothing could however be further from the truth.

Our own experiences through supporting children and young people show that any child – boy or girl – can be sexually exploited regardless of their background, family situation, ethnicity or age.

Perpetrators can be men or women, of all ages and all ethnicities whether they operate in isolation or as part of a group.

It is therefore crucial that everyone knows about this issue, can better recognise warning signs and know where to go for advice, help and support.”

To book an awareness session and for more information about these issues, how Safe and Support can help and how to support the charity’s work in Derbyshire, please visit www.safeandsoundgroup.org and follow on Facebook and Twitter @safeandsoundgroup

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