To mark National Child Exploitation Awareness Day on Thursday 18 March people are being urged to learn how to spot the warning signs of young people being exploited.
The awareness day is to highlight the issues surrounding child exploitation and encourage everyone to think, spot and speak out against abuse.
The council has dedicated teams who work to tackle child exploitation, to raise awareness of the different forms it can take.
They work together with local organisations, such as the police and health partners, to tackle all forms of exploitation. This includes children who may be being sexually and/or criminally exploited – such as “County Lines” where gangs use children to expand their supply of drugs from larger cities to smaller, often rural towns. Child sexual exploitation is a form of sexual abuse that involves the manipulation and/or coercion of children under the age of 18 into sexual activity.
Working together the council and partners want to raise awareness about the possible signs of exploitation, emphasising that any child or young person can be exploited, no matter their gender, ethnicity, religion or background.
Knowing some of the signs can help a child or young person in need:
- going missing for periods of time, regularly returning home late or staying out overnight
- skipping school and being disruptive
- suddenly having unexplained possessions or money that can’t be accounted for
- changes in behaviour
- using drugs and/or alcohol
- changes in the way they dress
- being frightened of some people and places
- being secretive
- violent or criminal behaviour
- unexplained physical injuries
More support on spotting the signs can be found on the Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership’s Eyes Open website
Councillor Wendy Clements, Chair Children, Young People and Education Committee said:
“Child Exploitation Awareness Day is a chance for us all to take time to educate ourselves and others, on the signs of exploitation. By doing this we could help a child or young person in need and give them the voice they need to stop it.
“It is vital that people know what the warning signs relating to the exploitation of children are – and what to do if they believe a child is being exploited.”
Anyone who wants to make a public declaration about helping to tackling CSE can contribute to a national social media campaign.
The instructions are:
- write a personal pledge on your hands to show support for the ‘Helping Hands campaign’.
- post your photo on social media with the hashtag #HelpingHands and #CEADay21 to help raise awareness.
Pledges can cover anything from speaking out to educating others. For more ways you can support visit the Stop CSE website. If you are concerned about a child, visit the Wirral Safeguarding Children’s Board website. In an emergency always call 999.