Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (BCCG) is urging people to think, spot and speak out against child abuse and sexual exploitation ahead of a national event on Saturday.
The National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Raising Day highlights the issues surrounding child sexual exploitation, to prevent abusers from developing inappropriate relationships with children and young people and ensures healthcare professionals know how to identify children who are at risk, to make sure they receive the support they need.
Child sexual exploitation (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. It is a complex form of abuse and can be difficult for those working with children or young people to identify and assess, particularly with older adolescents, and is often perceived as consensual relationships.
The health body responsible for buying healthcare services and safeguarding in Bedfordshire is one of the first to employ a Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Lead to work directly with local health staff, so they can identify abuse in the county.
Providing specialist training is vital to give the knowledge and understanding to those in contact with children and young people to ensure the signs, which can be hard to identify, are not missed. The training is being rolled out across the county, and so far training has been delivered to school nurses, GP’s and Pharmacists.
Paula Fleming, CSE Lead, Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group said; “I joined the organisation as CSE lead just six months ago and in that time I have been overwhelmed by the interest shown by healthcare professionals in wanting to further understand CSE. My role is key to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation across the county so that we can prevent the abuse of vulnerable young people and children and ensure they receive the essential support they need.”
On March 18, help raise awareness by writing a personal pledge on your hands to show support for the Helping Hands campaign and post your photo on social media with the hashtag #HelpingHands to help raise awareness of CSE.
For more information on the National Awareness Raising Day and putting a stop to CSE visit www.stop-cse.org
If you are worried about a child or young person, contact your local council and ask to talk to the Children’s Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub or phone 0300 300 8123 if it is outside office hours. Alternatively call the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000 to report your concerns.