National Child Exploitation Awareness Day aims to highlight the issues surrounding child exploitation and encourage everyone to think, spot and speak out against abuse and adopt a zero tolerance to adults developing inappropriate relationships with children or children exploiting and abusing their peers.
Child exploitation is when an abuser takes advantage of a young person for their own personal gain. This can take many forms, including modern slavery, sexual abuse, trafficking, forcing the child to commit a crime. This is done by manipulating and/or coercing the victim into doing something they don’t want to in exchange for things such as money, gifts, accommodation, affection and status.
Knowing the signs can really help children when they have no one else to turn to. Signs to look out for are:
- Going missing for periods of time or regularly returning home late
- Regularly missing school or not taking part in education
- Appearing with unexplained gifts or possessions
- Associating with other young people involved in exploitation
- Being in a controlling relationship
- Suffering from sexually transmitted infections
- Uncharacteristic and significant mood swings or changes in emotional wellbeing
- Drug and alcohol misuse
- Spending time in CSE hotspots
- Being secretive
- Changes in behaviour
- Suspected pregnancies
- Displaying inappropriate sexualised behaviour
- Use of mobile phone and internet that causes concern
- Involved with or linked to gang activity.
What to do if you suspect child exploitation
If you think a child is at risk then, in an emergency, always call the Police on 999.
For a non-emergency concern, call the Police on 101 or call Slough Children’s Services Trust’s Referral and Assessment Service on 01753 875362 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm) or the Emergency Duty Team for out-of-hours 01344 786543.
Find out more information on child exploitation on the Slough Safeguarding Partnership website.