As part of today’s National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day, people are being asked to think, spot and speak out against abuse, and show support for a campaign on social media.
The awareness day was established by the NWG Network, a charity dedicated to helping combat child sexual exploitation (CSE), and who provide information and support to voluntary and statutory services.
Temporary Detective Superintendent Simon Crisp, Avon and Somerset Police’s lead for child sexual exploitation, said:
“The exploitation of children for sex is a horrific crime and we all share a responsibility to protect children and young people.
“Spotting the signs is vital, as many who are being abused do not see themselves as victims. Others can be too scared to come forward because of the power their abusers exert over them.
“In Avon and Somerset, frontline police staff and officers are trained to identify vulnerable children and young people and spot the warning signs of grooming and exploitation.
“Today’s National CSE Awareness Day encourages everyone to be vigilant and to think, spot and speak out against abuse. Because only by working together and sharing information can we help inform, educate and prevent this form of child sexual abuse.”
Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said
“Eliminating child sexual exploitation is part of my wider priority to tackle domestic and sexual violence against women and children. An important part of this is ensuring that our communities and young people feel supported in eradicating this terrible and destructive crime.
“We should all be able to live in a world where our young people can enjoy being children, grow up at their own pace and are able to make their own decisions. In the saddening instance where this is not the case, collectively we need to be there to help and support them, many of whom do not see themselves as victims.
“It is only by working together can we be the strongest support network we can be for victims of child sexual exploitation. We all have a responsibility for safeguarding our young people and for a young person, who is brave enough to share their ordeal, they must be listened to, they must be believed and they must be taken seriously.”