ALEK’S STORY

1. CSE is a particularly manipulative form of abuse and is also linked to criminal exploitation issues such as County Lines, gangs, trafficking, and modern slavery.

2. Raising awareness of the signs, symptoms, and impact of CSE amongst young people and the public is an important part of Safe and Sound’s work – thanks to funding from Children in Need.

By raising awareness of child sexual exploitation, young people, families, and communities can better recognise the warning signs and ensure victims and those at risk of CSE receive the help and support they so desperately need.

3. CSE can affect any young girl or boy regardless of where they live, their family situation, cultural or social background.

4. Perpetrators can be male, female, of all ages, operate as individuals or in groups, and come from all walks of life.

Alek, aged 12, has transformed his life – thanks to support from Safe and Sound.

Alek (not his real name) came to Derbyshire with his family from Eastern Europe and was nervous about starting school here.

He was befriended by a girl who was nearly 16 and whom he initially regarded as a friendly protector in a new and strange environment.

Their friendship soon turned into a relationship – holding hands and spending time out of school in the local park.

Meanwhile, Alek’s mother attended an awareness session, run by Safe and Sound in the local community about child sexual exploitation and abuse which is an issue which many new arrivals to the UK are not familiar with.

She already had niggling concerns about Alek’s relationship with the girl and, when she found out that he had been lying about who he was with and where he was going, she spoke to the Safe and Sound support worker she had met.

Alek told the support worker that the girl was trying to persuade him to go to her house and her family were suspected of being involved in drugs.

Although nothing untoward had happened so far, there were warning signs that the girl may have been involved with adult perpetrators and that Alek was in danger of sexual exploitation, abuse or carrying drugs.

The Safe and Sound support worker worked with Alek to help him recognise some of the warning signs of sexual exploitation. He quickly grasped the potential risks of the situation and finished the relationship with the older girl.

He now has friends of his own age; he is much more confident to say no to situations he is uncomfortable with and is vocal with other young people in his community to raise awareness of grooming and abuse.