Home Children and Young People National Child Exploitation Awareness Day

National Child Exploitation Awareness Day

by Jonathan Kearney

Friday 18 March is National Child Exploitation Awareness Day, which aims to highlight the issues surrounding child sexual and criminal exploitation, encouraging everyone to think, identify and speak out against abuse.

The Council and partners in Knowsley, including Merseyside Police, are continuing to raise awareness of this sensitive issue by informing, educating and ultimately preventing this form of child abuse which can have devastating effects on the lives of victims and their families.

As part of this work, children and young people, their parents or carers, teachers or professionals working with children are encouraged to visit the Listen to my Story website. There’s lots of useful information, advice and support on this website which raises awareness of child exploitation, the signs to look out for and importantly, where to get help and support. In addition, the Eyes Wide Open campaign has resources for professionals and families on their website.

On Friday (18 March), Knowsley’s multi-agency Shield team (who work with children to protect them from being exploited as well as targeting offenders) will be raising awareness of the issue through walkabouts in the community, poster drops highlighting the signs to look out for and where to report any concerns to local businesses, youth clubs, gyms and boxing clubs, bus stations, taxi companies, sexual health clinics, health centres, residential homes, police stations and council buildings. Shield will also be delivering child exploitation training to various partners and contacting secondary schools to offer an interactive child sexual exploitation awareness raising session for male Year 6 students.  This will be delivered throughout the year.

Cllr Margaret Harvey, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “Safeguarding children is everyone’s responsibility, so if you have concerns that a child or young person is being exploited in some way, please report it. It’s really important that we educate our communities about the signs and vulnerabilities of child exploitation so that together, we can tackle it.”

The signs of exploitation are:

  • Regularly missing from home or school and staying out all night.
  • Change in behaviour – becoming aggressive and disruptive or quiet and withdrawn.
  • Change in physical appearance – new clothes, hair style, cuts and bruising or injuries.
  • Unexplained gifts or new possessions such as clothes, jewellery, mobile phones or money that can’t be accounted for.
  • Increase in mobile phone use or secretive use.
  • Receiving free substances from others such as cannabis or other drugs.
  • A significantly older ‘boyfriend’ or ‘friend’ or lots of new friends.
  • Spending excessive amounts of time online or on their mobile and becoming increasingly secretive about this activity.
  • Sudden involvement in criminal behaviour or increased offending.
  • Sexual health problems.

If you have concerns about a child or young person in Knowsley, report it to Knowsley’s Multi-Agency Safeguarding on 0151 443 2600. Alternatively, you can call Merseyside Police on 101 (999 in an emergency) or Crimestoppers (anonymously) on 0800 555 111.