CSE Awareness Day: Key Issues Part 3

Child sexual exploitation (CSE) awareness day: our staff discuss new or key issues that we all need to be aware of.

We asked some of our staff about new or common issues they come across when working with young people at risk of and affected by sexual exploitation to find out where the focus should be so awareness can be more targeted.

PART 3: We asked our Support Workers about recent issues they’ve identified when working with young people at risk of sexual exploitation that they would like to raise awareness of on Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Awareness Day.

About out CSE Support Workers

Our CSE Support Workers first seek to establish a robust and trusting relationship with a young person, often referred into our service by Derby City or Derbyshire County Councils because they have been deemed at risk of being sexually exploited. Unfortunately in many cases, over time and with patience and understanding, a young person may disclose that they have actually already been abused; often through manipulation, with threats of violence and leading to sexual assault or in some cases rape.

Working together, slowly and gently the young person learns they are not at fault and gradually is enabled to build their self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth, moving physically, mentally and emotionally to a place of safety and reduced risk.

Recognising and responding to young people

One Safe and Sound CSE Support Worker said, “We all have a responsibility for identifying victims or those at potential risk of being abused in this way. People that work with children or around them cannot expect young people to come forward or be forthcoming in talking about what has or is still happening to them.

“Commonly, victims have told us they feel scared or threatened and many just don’t see that they have been manipulated by their perpetrator/s into feeling they are in a relationship with them when they’re actually being abused. These young people will not come forward willingly so we need to get better at not just identifying them, but seeking them out, and creating safe spaces where they can open up and talk about what is happening in their lives.

“This also means we need organisations that come into contact with children and young people, but don’t necessarily work directly with them, to be more proactive about ensuring their staff are trained in what to look for and how to report issues. This is vital in places where young people visit, such as takeaways, cinemas and shopping centres, as well as places where perpetrators might take them, such as hotels, bars and restaurants.”

Abuse can happen anywhere

Another of our CSE Support Workers said they want people to be more aware that focussing on what the media tell us are ‘hotspots’ for sexual abuse and exploitation around the country is unhelpful. She said that, “The idea that abuse is more prevalent in certain areas is unlikely to be the case. Unfortunately, because child sexual abuse and exploitation has many forms e.g. individual perpetrators operating online and in person, organised gangs, peer-on-peer, it is likely to be happening in many guises in cities, towns and villages across the UK.

“Individuals and communities need to be able to recognise when abuse is happening and report it. We all have a responsibility for ending child sexual abuse and exploitation.”

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