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Child Protection Committee Identify Signs Of Abuse
South Lanarkshire Child Protection Committee are backing a new campaign that tackles child sexual exploitation.
It comes as new research shows 93 per cent of parents have heard of child sexual exploitation, but almost a third (29 per cent) know little about it and over a third (36 per cent) believe it won’t affect their family.
In 2014/15 ChildLine in Scotland provided 635 counselling sessions to children and young people worried about child sexual exploitation, with the NSPCC responding to 62 inquiries from adults in Scotland in the same period. Yet experts feel these figures may be the tip of the iceberg.
Norman Dunning, independent chair of the South Lanarkshire Child Protection Committee, said: "Child sexual exploitation is a complex form of abuse in which victims are manipulated, pressurised or forced into taking part in a sexual act in exchange for receiving something. This may include gifts, money, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, or simply affection. It’s often a hidden crime where the child may not understand that they are a victim and so may not come forward to ask for help."
"This research shows that most parents don’t know a lot about the ways in which child sexual exploitation can take place and don’t believe that their family is at risk. The reality is child sexual exploitation takes many different forms, both online and offline, and can affect any young person regardless of their gender or background.
"Parents and carers can play an important role in helping to keep young people in Scotland safe by making sure they are familiar with the signs of abuse that could indicate a child is at risk of abuse or already being affected.
"South Lanarkshire Child Protection Committee welcomes and supports this important awareness raising campaign from the Scottish Government and would to visit the website www.csethesigns.scot where advice and support is available."
A new TV advert highlights how to spot the warning signs of this form of abuse and shows how conversations online can potentially lead to a young person placing themselves in danger. The TV advert will run alongside outdoor advertising. The campaign is aimed at parents and young people aged 11-17, with the message that child sexual exploitation can happen to any young person, regardless of their gender or background.
A range of partners are supporting the campaign, including Barnardo’s Scotland, NSPCC Scotland, ChildLine, Police Scotland and Children 1st.
Child sexual exploitation involves a young person under the age of 18 being manipulated, forced, pressurised or coerced int
A new website – www.csethesigns.scot – provides information and advice on how to spot the warning signs and symptoms, common myths, practical advice for staying safe online and offline and tips for parents on how to have a conversation with their child about healthy and unhealthy relationships.
The website talks about spotting the signs and symptoms of abuse. It says that taken in isolation, any one of these signs could simply be your child or the child you care for growing up and becoming more independent. But if you’re concerned, find out more. Signs and symptoms include:
Are they suffering severe mood swings?
Have they become unusually secretive?
Is your child late home or skipping school?
Are they acting differently when they access the Internet?
Is your child in possession of expensive new things?
The research published by YouGov looked at people’s understanding and knowledge of child sexual exploitation in Scotland. It was carried out during August 14-20 and a total of 501 interviews with parents of children aged 11-17 living in Scotland were conducted.
The Scottish Government pledged to develop an awareness raising campaign in the National Action Plan to Tackle Child Sexual Exploitation, published in November 2014.
Education Secretary Angela Constance said: “Child sexual exploitation is happening to boys and girls in Scotland. By its very nature this form of child abuse is often hidden and many young people who are affected don’t realise they are a victim and will not ask for help.
"The first step in tackling this abhorrent crime is understanding it can happen to anyone. It can take many forms – online, through social media or on phones, as well as in person on a one to one or group basis.
"Barnardo’s Scotland directly supported 266 young people who have been victims or were at risk last year, but these figures may be the tip of the iceberg.
"New research shows that most parents don’t know a lot about it and don’t believe that their family is at risk. This campaign aims to change that and help parents and young people understand the warning signs and prevent the abuse before it takes place."
Martin Crewe, director of Barnardo’s Scotland, said: "It is vital that we raise awareness of the risks of child sexual exploitation. Although there is widespread concern about the issue, many parents believe their children are not at risk. We want to ensure that parents know the signs of child sexual exploitation and can take appropriate action to minimise the risks."
Malcolm Graham, Assistant Chief Constable, Major Crime and Public Protection, said: "Tackling abuse in all its forms, including child sexual exploitation (CSE), is a priority for Police Scotland. Child sexual exploitation is an evolving issue, as is our understanding of it and how it can affect young people. CSE takes place across all communities and it affects girls and boys. Young people are exposed to exploitation in a myriad of ways from online grooming to contact offending. They may not recognise or understand what’s happening until it’s too late.
"We fully support the Government’s campaign. We are committed to working with the Government and with other partners to prevent young people’s lives being blighted by CSE. Raising public awareness and particularly parental awareness of what to look for if their child is being exploited is an important part of tackling this crime.
"If anyone suspects a child may be a victim of any form child abuse including sexual exploitation then contact the Police or one of our partner agencies. In the same vein I would like to emphasise that if anyone suspects individuals of committing acts of child abuse then contact us and we will investigate thoroughly and robustly in order to keep children safe."