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.
National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day on 18th March 2015 aims to highlight the issues surrounding CSE encouraging everyone to spot the signs and support young people appropriately.
The impact of Child Sexual Exploitation can have a devastating effect on the lives of victims. It is known that children and young people who have experienced sexual exploitation have poor health outcomes. The health impact is varied, with victims experiencing many forms of physical, psychological and emotional health difficulties.
Health Professionals have a role to play in raising awareness and recognising the signs of Child Sexual Exploitation. You can help by knowing how to spot the signs and you can do this by being aware of the vulnerabilities and indicators.
There are a number of signs which may be noted by Health Professionals that would indicate a child is at risk or experiencing CSE, these include.
- Physical injuries/repeated A&E attendances
- Drug and Alcohol misuse
- Self-harm and suicidal ideation
- Repeated sexually transmitted infection, pregnancy and terminations
- Frequently reported missing from home
- Deterioration in behaviour
- Rapid change in appearance including self-neglect
- Decline in school attendance
Some factors may make a child more vulnerable to CSE these need to be considered as part of your assessment. Some of these vulnerabilities include:
- Learning disabilities
- Confusion around sexual orientation
- History of abuse eg neglect, familial sexual abuse, physical, emotional abuse.
- Low self esteem
- Young people in foster or residential care
- Gang association
- Missing from home and homelessness
You could also help to support this campaign by raising awareness amongst other groups.
As professionals you can inform Children and young people about the risks associated with Child Sexual Exploitation and the methods which are used to target and groom them. Children and young people should also be encouraged to look out for their friends and speak to someone if they are concerned.
Parents and carers should also be made aware of the indicators of Child Sexual Exploitation to enable them help spot the signs and intervene early.
Practitioners can help empower children and parents/carers by educating them about Child Sexual Exploitation, the grooming process, the risk factors and indicators and the contact details of local and national organisations that can offer support. Practitioners can ensure that their own knowledge of Child Sexual Exploitation and Human Trafficking is up to date.
If you have any concerns that a child maybe experiencing Child Sexual Exploitation, please seek further advice from your Safeguarding Team or the your local CSE team on the following numbers.
Engage Team –Blackburn with Darwen, Hyndburn Ribble Valley, Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale- 01254 353525
Deter Team – Preston, Chorley, South Ribble, West Lancs- 01772 209122
Awaken Team- Blackpool and Fylde; Lancaster, Morecambe and Wyre -01253 477261