"Child Exploitation is abuse, and it needs to stop."
16 Mar | 15:48

"Child Exploitation is abuse, and it needs to stop."

That is the firm message from detectives at Northumbria Police who have pledged their support for Child Exploitation Awareness Day.

Taking place on March 18, the national awareness day aims to highlight the issues surrounding Child Exploitation (CE) and to encourage everyone to think, spot and speak out against abuse.

CE is a form of abuse which involves the manipulation and/or coercion of young people under the age of 18.

To mark the national awareness day, detectives have emphasised that keeping children safe from this type of harm is everyone's business.

Detective Inspector Steve Brown, of Northumbria Police, said: “I am pleased to be supporting the national awareness campaign for CE. It’s important to remember that every child could be at risk, and whether you’re a teacher, parent, carer, hotel worker, or bus driver – you need to know the signs to look out for.

“Each year, thousands of young people are abused and groomed to have sex. Some are tricked into thinking they’re in a ‘normal’, even loving relationship, then they are threatened and passed around to strangers. This needs to stop.

“We need people to be the eyes and ears in our communities and be our helping hands. Know the signs, don’t be silent and if you see something, say something.

“CE is a type of abuse, and it’s clear it can happen to both boys and girls.”

Northumbria Police are also encouraging use of the ‘Say Something’ helpline which is targeted at children and young people with concerns about child exploitation (CE) involving themselves or others. The helpline is run by the charity Missing People, in association with the National Working Group Network, and is funded by the Department of Education.

Det Insp Brown added: “As a Force, we take a consistent approach when dealing with victims of CE, so we can provide the best service to the most vulnerable. The language we use as officers should reflect the presence of coercion and the lack of control young people have in abusive or exploitative situations.

“Victim-blaming language may reinforce messages from perpetrators around shame and guilt. This in turn may prevent the child or young person from disclosing their abuse, through fear of being blamed by professionals.

“It’s important that victims know they will receive the support they need, without the fear of being judged.”

The Force continues to make protecting those who are vulnerable their main focus – and has explored how working with partners more closely can support their efforts.

Det Insp Brown explained: “We recognise exploitation and its impact within our communities – and we know that this is not something that we can tackle alone. We therefore operate a Multi-Agency Exploitation Hub, working with a number of partner agencies under one roof, supporting the most vulnerable within our communities.

“Protecting vulnerable children remains a top priority for Northumbria Police and we are committed to the ongoing fight against the abuse of children.”

You can learn about how exploitation happens and how to spot the signs of exploitation at www.childrenssociety.org.uk/what-we-do/our-work/child-criminal-exploitation-and-county-lines/spotting-signs

Anyone with concerns around CE is asked to contact police on 101 or report via the ‘Tell Us Something’ page of the Northumbria Police website. Always call 999 in an emergency. We also support use of the ‘Say Something’ helpline run by the Missing People charity.

Children and young people are also encouraged to report 100% anonymously via visiting Fearless.org.

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