Knowsley Council and partners are helping to raise awareness of child exploitation as part of National Child Exploitation Day which takes place on 18 March. It’s important that people know what the signs are and what to do if they have any concerns.
Every year, thousands of children in the UK are exploited. Some have been groomed and involved in drug trafficking, others face sexual abuse. No matter what form of child exploitation, we all have a role to play in helping to identify victims and ensure they receive the support to get out of the cycle of abuse.
Signs to look out for
- Is a young person travelling alone, particularly during school hours, late at night or frequently?
- Are they looking lost or in unfamiliar surroundings?
- Are they anxious, frightened, angry or displaying other behaviours that make you worry about them?
- Are they in possession of more than one phone?
- Are they carrying lots of cash?
- Are they under the influence of drugs or alcohol?
- Are they being instructed or controlled by another person?
- As a parent or carer:-
- Has your child’s behaviour changed – have they become moody, aggressive or emotional?
- Are they being secretive?
- Are they missing from school?
- Are they coming home with expensive gifts or have money that you’re not aware of?
- Do they display any physical signs of abuse such as bruising?
In Knowsley, there’s a dedicated team – Shield – who can provide help and support. The team works with education and health providers, employment service, the police and Catch22 to provide a dedicated and specialist service to Knowsley young people and their families.
Shield can help to identify activities based on a young person’s interests, they will listen to you, support you, meet with you regularly, help you to stay in education or find a job and support you to access services that will improve your physical wellbeing and mental health.
Cllr Margaret Harvey, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said “Safeguarding our children and young people is everyone’s responsibility. It’s important that you know what the signs of child exploitation are and, importantly, what to do if you have any concerns.
“Our Shield team provide dedicated support to children, young people and their families who are being exploited or at risk of being exploited and work with them so that they can get out of the cycle of abuse, rebuild their confidence and go on to achieve and succeed.”
Over the coming weeks, Shield will be raising awareness of child exploitation and the help and support that is available to children and families. Shield will be visiting sexual health clinics, Accident and Emergency Department staff at Whiston Hospital, and meeting with pupils across the borough. They will also be linking in with the fostering team, local policing team and discussing child exploitation with staff at SHAP (housing support and wellbeing services for young people).
If you would like any further information, need support or have any concerns about a child or young person, please speak to a member of the Shield team on 0151 443 5028 or email Shield@knowsley.gov.uk