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Region's top football clubs put rivalry aside to launch Child Sexual Exploitation campaign
14 Mar | 12:06

Players from Newcastle United, Sunderland and Middlesbrough are taking part in the ‘SEE IT, TACKLE IT, STOP IT’ campaign

Football stars from the North East are putting their rivalries behind them to join forces to raise awareness of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE).

Players from Newcastle United, Sunderland Football Club and Middlesbrough Football Club are taking part in the ‘SEE IT, TACKLE IT, STOP IT’ campaign alongside The Children’s Society, Northumbria Police and Newcastle Elite Academy.

Newcastle United winger, Matt Ritchie, said: “This is a fantastic campaign which focuses on an important issue. It is great that we can use our position as role models to try and educate young people on this and hopefully raise awareness on the subject.”

Figures show that 1 in 20 children and young people have experienced child sexual abuse. It is hoped that young people will not only understand what to look out for with regards to CSE but also know the support they can receive if they are ever a victim. 

Detective Chief Superintendent Scott Hall, from Northumbria Police said: “The campaign was designed to reach out and engage with children who may be subject to CSE and to encourage them to come forward and speak to someone, knowing they will be heard and will get the support they need.”

As part of the campaign, an awareness raising film has been developed as well as training that will has been delivered directly to coaches to enable them to spot signs of CSE and help further educate young people on the issue. 

Danielle Amann, from the Children Society’s Child Sexual Abuse and Prevention Programme, said:  “Child sexual exploitation is a horrific crime and it can happen to any child, in any community. High profile cases in recent months have shone a light on the terrible abuse suffered by young people right here in the North East.  

“Much progress has been made in tackling child sexual exploitation in the region, but it’s vital that both young people and adults who work with them – from teachers to football coaches – know the signs of grooming and exploitation so that action can be taken to stop it. 

“At the Children’s Society we are dedicated to raising awareness in the hope that we can prevent children and young people from being harmed by sexual abuse and exploitation. This is an important campaign supported by young people’s role models from the world of football.”

The aim of the campaign is also to enable schools, businesses and organisations to be engaged in raising awareness and to increase engagement with hard to reach groups.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Dame Vera Baird QC said: “I’m delighted that high profile football players from our local clubs are supporting this campaign - we all have a duty to protect young people from the dangers of CSE. 

“We’ve a fantastic facility here in Newcastle’s West End that helps young people spot the warning signs of abuse, whether that’s at home, in school or during their free time. It’s this kind of innovative thinking and campaigning that we can work to prevent this abhorrent crime.”

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