17
March
2015
|
00:00
Europe/London

Leeds residents urged to give a #helpinghand to raise awareness of sexual exploitation





Issued on behalf of
the Leeds Safeguarding Children Board






Leeds residents
are being urged to support a campaign to stop young people becoming victims of child
sexual exploitation.  





This week sees
the launch of a national campaign to raise awareness of child sexual
exploitation (CSE), which will ask people to share their thoughts on the
subject using the twitter hashtag ‘#HelpingHands’.





The campaign is being supported by members of the Leeds
Safeguarding Children Board who are helping to raise awareness of child sexual
exploitation with residents across the city.  






As part of
the campaign agencies and people across Leeds are being asked to mark national
child sexual exploitation awareness day on Wednesday 18 March 2015 by writing a
personal pledge on their hands to help raise awareness of CSE.






To help
spread the message in Leeds, CSE
third sector organisation and LSCB
partners Blast have organised an information stall in Merrion Centre to
distribute information on CSE, with a focus on online grooming.  The LSCB has also organised a special training
session for children’s services practitioners called “CSE light bite”.






The Leeds Safeguarding Children Board has also published number
of easy to read guides for parents to help them understand different social
media applications and gaming consoles explaining how to set privacy levels and
restrict access to information.






Jane Held,
independent chair of the Leeds Safeguarding Children Board, said:



“Sexual exploitation has been called the single
biggest threat facing children and young people in the UK today.  It is
abuse and a crime and every
one has a part to play in stopping it.






“We have been delivering training and advice
for professionals including teachers, social workers and GPs, so that they
understand what CSE is and what to do if they have any concerns.






“Fortunately
most children in Leeds live safe and happy lives, but the risks posed to young
people in the online world, and the real world, are very real and very serious.
This is why it is vital that everyone, not just professionals, are able to recognise
the signs and know what to do about it.”






Children
are groomed and exploited in different ways.  It may be difficult for
parents, carers and others to differentiate between ordinary teenage
behaviour and the risk of involvement in
sexual exploitation.  However, there are some signs that may signify that
children or young people are being groomed for sexual exploitation or are
actually being sexually exploited.






These signs
may include:



  1. Going missing for periods of
    time or regularly returning home late


  2. Regularly missing school or not
    taking part in education


  3. Appearing with unexplained
    gifts or new possessions


  4. Having older boyfriends or
    girlfriends.




The Leeds Safeguarding Children Board is already working
hard to raise awareness of CSE on a local level with the ‘Who are you really
talking to?” campaign which was launched last year in partnership with West
Yorkshire Police, other West Yorkshire local children’s safeguarding boards and
local authorities.






The online multi-agency campaign is being run across West
Yorkshire to make young people more aware of the risks behind chat forums and
other interactive platforms. It forms part of the ongoing initiative entitled
‘Know the Signs’ which aims to highlight the issues of child sexual
exploitation and encourage victims to report it.






The social media campaign features an image of a two
teenagers in an online conversation. The graphic then reveals that one of them
is actually a sexual predator and not the person they are purporting to be.






The aim of the ‘Know the Signs’ campaign is to highlight
that:






  • when you are taking to a
    stranger online, you can’t be sure that the person is who they say they
    are;


  • what online grooming is
    and how to recognise it;


  • how to stay safe online;


  • up-loading personal
    information online that is viewable to all and could enable people to
    identify where you live and contact you;


  • sexual exploitation can be
    hard to recognise because you might have developed a friendship/
    relationship with someone online;


  • sexual exploitation is not
    normal and is a form of abuse.




To report suspected Child Sexual Exploitation people should
contact the police non-emergency number 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on
0800 555 111.










ENDS



For
media enquiries, please contact:



Emma
Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713