Living and coping with child sexual exploitation – a parent’s perspective

Living and coping with child sexual exploitation – a parent’s perspective

By Tracy Harrison, chief executive of local specialist child sexual exploitation charity Safe and Sound

A key part of Safe and Sound’s work across Derbyshire is to support the families of children and young people who are victims of or at risk of child sexual exploitation (CSE).

Parents and the wider family tell us that their overwhelming feelings when they discover their child has – or is still being – sexually exploited are anger, helplessness and guilt.

Our over-riding message to them from the outset is that, just as their son or daughter is not to blame for what has happened, they as parents are equally not to blame.

These children are targeted by individuals or groups of ruthless and manipulative criminals and a key tactic is to deliberately estrange children from their parents to exert greater control.

Children and young people often believe they are in a ‘loving’ relationship with the perpetrator.  Others have been viciously threatened to keep quiet for fear of their own, or their family’s safety.

Therefore, these young victims are reluctant to talk to anyone – let alone their families – about what has or is still happening.

The first stage in supporting young victims is to help them recognise that they have been groomed and exploited – and families have a vital role in this process.

They need to make it clear to their child they can always come and talk to them – no matter what they have to say — and that the family will always be there for them.

One father whose daughter was a victim of CSE told me that the turning point for them was recognising that they had to start listening and believing her – rather than blaming her for running away and closing down communications with them.

Whilst it is obviously important to keep children safe, families also need to look after themselves during these difficult times.

A common aspect of CSE is that children go missing for increasing periods of time.  This obviously causes huge levels of anxiety and sleep deprivation for the families waiting at home.

Sexually exploited children often find it difficult to control their anger and direct it at their family members through physical and verbal abuse.

Others avoid going to school, cut themselves off from their friends and often self-harm – all of which puts a huge strain on family life.

Coping and living with CSE can seriously affect mental and physical health so it is important to speak honestly with a GP about the stress they are under.

It’s also important to recognise that, even when the abuse stops, recovery does not happen overnight for the young person or the family so support from Safe and Sound is ongoing for as long as it is needed.

With greater awareness of CSE amongst professionals and wider communities alike – the issue of CSE is finally being recognised with the severity it deserves and it is vital that parents do not give up on the situation.

They need to make all the professionals who come into contact with their child – from teachers to social workers – aware of their concerns and be persistent even if they feel they are not being taken seriously.

Furthermore, families should keep rigorous diaries and notes of all incidences as these will be invaluable in any future court proceedings.

Throughout these dark times, it is vital that parents recognise that they are not alone and that there is help available.

Please visit the Safe and Sound website www.safeandsoundgroup.org.uk  for more information about support available to victims of sexual exploitation and their families and how to support the charity’s work to protect local children and young people.

New Communities CSE Project Extended

New Communities CSE Project Extended

A pilot project to support and protect children and young people in Derby’s new communities who are victims of or at risk of child sexual exploitation (CSE) has been extended.

Specialist local charity Safe and Sound has been part of a wider Government-funded project, led by Derby City Council, to support new communities in the city from, for example, Eastern Europe, with issues they face such as sexual exploitation, education, housing and modern slavery.

Funding for the project has now been extended for a further 12 months to ensure that more young people and their families can be supported and that awareness about CSE is further extended across local communities.

In the past year, the charity has worked with more than 20 children and young people aged 18 and under.  They have faced issues ranging from being at risk of online grooming to trafficking.

Another key aspect of the project has been to raise awareness amongst new communities about CSE and the dangers facing young people both physically and online.

More than 40 awareness sessions have been held and special training has been completed for ten community leaders and workers to further spread information about the issue and the support available in the city.

Safe and Sound chief executive Tracy Harrison explained: “Families from Eastern European countries in particular often come from largely rural communities and living in a city can, therefore, be very alien to their culture.

“When we started the project, it soon became evident that new communities in the city were unaware of the grooming tactics used by perpetrators.  This has been compounded by the language barriers they face and their reluctance to engage with authorities who can support them.

“These factors therefore make their children and young people extremely vulnerable to sexual exploitation.”

She continued: “Our aim has been to firstly directly support those young people who are already being groomed or who are regarded as at particular risk of such exploitation and to keep them safe.

“We have also made good inroads in raising awareness across new communities of CSE and to build their trust in Safe and Sound who can support young people and their families.

“By raising awareness of the dangers facing young people, we are now contacted by fellow professionals, schools and families themselves who better recognise the warning signs of grooming and exploitation.

“This increased awareness enables us to identify and work one to one with young people to help them recognise unhealthy and exploitative relationships, build their confidence and resilience and better protect them from these predators.

“By working in partnership with fellow professionals and the communities themselves, we are making significant progress in transforming the lives of young people so that they can build stronger wings to grow up safely in our local communities.”

Safe and Sound’s work with new communities in the operates alongside the charity’s wider project across Derbyshire, funded by Children in Need.

The project provides support for children and young people at risk of child sexual exploitation and raise awareness of the issue amongst local communities.

The charity recently launched a year-long Butterfly Appeal to raise vital funds to further expand its work across the city and county.

Future plans include launching new services such as outreach work, family support, youth work programmes, psychological therapy, longer term support for survivors and an expanded community education programme.

For more information about Safe and Support can help and how to support the charity’s work in Derbyshire, please visit www.safeandsoundgroup.org  and follow on Facebook and Twitter @safeandsoundgroup #BuildingStrongerWings or email [email protected]

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Media enquiries: Sarah Jenkin-Jones, JJPR, Tel: 01332 515102/07951 945665; [email protected]

About Safe and Sound and the Butterfly Appeal

Safe and Sound was launched in 2002 and is the only local charity that is totally focused on transforming the lives of thousands of children and young people who are victims or are at risk of child sexual exploitation across Derbyshire.

Safe and Sound’s expertise came to the fore during the 2010 landmark case – Operation Retriever – which was Derby’s first prosecution for child sexual exploitation and abuse.  The charity’s specialist team supported every young person affected by the criminal actions of 13 defendants who were jailed in total for up to 22 years for 70 offences.

Safe and Sound’s specialist team provides individual support for children and young people from as young as eight up to the age of 18. They also raise awareness of the issue and the dangers facing children and young people through awareness programmes for schools, organisations, businesses and community groups.

Safe and Sound has launched the Butterfly Appeal #Buildingstrongwings to bring to fruition its vision for expanded services to support young people, families and wider community.

The charity’s future vision is extensive and includes:

–           A new outreach programme to provide hands-on support where young people are at their most vulnerable

–           Wider support for the families of victims and those at risk of CSE

–           Youth work programmes with new activities from music to sport to build young people’s confidence and resilience

–           Specialist psychological therapy programmes to tackle trauma, anxiety and depression

–           Longer term support for survivors moving into adulthood enabling them to mentor younger victims

–           An expanded community education programme to increase public awareness of CSE and the dangers facing young people

Supporters and ambassadors include the Chief Constable of Derbyshire who has chosen Safe and Sound as one of his chosen charities.

For more information about child sexual exploitation, Safe and Sound Derby and the Butterfly Appeal please visitwww.safeandsoundgroup.co.uk and follow on social media. A powerful video outlining young people’s experiences and why local people and businesses should support Safe and Sound is online at https://youtu.be/xjcb1y2cfGE

About CSE

In the UK today, one in 20 children suffer sexual abuse which includes child sexual exploitation.  That means that in every classroom in Derbyshire, there is at least one vulnerable young person in need of help.

Child Exploitation (commonly referred to as CSE) is a form of child sexual abuse and takes many different forms from rape and sexual assault to online grooming and encouraging children to share inappropriate images of themselves.

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

The key factor is that individuals or groups take advantage of young people by manipulating or deceiving them into sexual activity in exchange for something the victim needs or wants.  This could range from money and alcohol to less tangible things such as the attention that they crave at a vulnerable time in their lives.

 

CSE Focus Welcomed

CSE Focus Welcomed

The National Crime Agency (NCA) leads on delivering increased operational activity on the different areas of modern slavery and human trafficking and this week (w/c September 16 2019) are focusing on the need for agencies to work together to better identify victims of Child Exploitation (CSE).

As the specialist and grassroots CSE provider in Derbyshire – Safe and Sound welcome moves to raise awareness of this issue across all agencies and particularly frontline NHS staff so that the otherwise hidden victims of CSE can be identified and helped.

Victims of and those vulnerable to sexual exploitation may access GP Surgeries, A&E, Sexual Health Services, Maternity and Abortion Service providers, be visited by community nursing or they may also come into contact with adult and children’s social care services.

According to the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioners Office, 1 in 8 NHS staff have had contact with a patient known or suspected to be a victim of trafficking, rising to 1 in 5 among maternity services professionals. This emphasises the importance of the health care sector in reaching out to the hidden community of sexually exploited victims of modern slavery and human trafficking.

CSE is an issue that affects children and young people across all communities.  It is only by working together and better understanding this issue that we can protect some of the most vulnerable in our society and help to transform their lives for a positive future.

Online CSE Funding Boost Welcomed

Online CSE Funding Boost Welcomed

The Chancellor’s spending plans were packed with headline-grabbing news but one announcement particularly caught my eye.

Sajid Javid announced, as part of the spending plans for the Home Office, that an additional £30 million would be made available to tackle online child sexual exploitation – which is commonly referred to as CSE.

Safe and Sound is the only local charity dedicated to supporting children and young people across Derbyshire who are victims of or at risk of CSE.

We obviously welcome this news and look forward to working with our partners in the criminal justice system to ensure that prevention and detection of online CSE is stepped up in this county.

In his speech, the Chancellor recognised that the internet is changing how criminals operate and break the law in a number of ways and I am relieved that he has put CSE high on the agenda as part of the wider policing priorities.

No doubt this announcement is in response shocking rise in online grooming which is the first stage in predators’ manipulation and control of their young victims.

Figures show that there has been almost a 50% increase in offences of sexual communication with a child and a 200% rise in recorded offences using Instagram to target and abuse children.

At Safe and Sound, we too have also seen a dramatic rise in online grooming by male and female perpetrators across Derbyshire.

Online grooming is when someone builds a relationship with a young person and then tricks, pressurises or even blackmails them into doing something sexual.

This could be as having explicit online conversations, sending naked images or videos, doing something on webcam or tricking them into meeting up.

Safe and Sound’s specialist support team help young girls and boys from all walks of life to realise that these online ‘friends’ are in fact manipulative predators and we help them to break contact and stay safe in future.

We work with young people and their families to ensure privacy settings are correctly set up, that they keep online devices – particularly those with webcams – in the living room or family spaces and highlight the risks of sharing information online.

Therefore, whilst we welcome the additional funding in tackling online CSE, we must all be aware of the dangers faced by young people online and to report concerns.

Please visit our website for more information and how we and other organisations can help: www.safeandsoundgroup.org.uk

Tracy Harrison, Chief Executive of specialist Child Exploitation charity Safe and Sound

Charity Boxers Support Safe and Sound Butterfly Appeal

Charity Boxers Support Safe and Sound Butterfly Appeal

A group of amateur boxers are hoping to emulate the immortal words of sporting great Mohammed Ali and float to their fundraising target to support local charity Safe and Sound’s Butterfly Appeal.

Ten charity boxers have chosen to support the long-established charity’s plans to expand the support it provides for children and young people across Derbyshire who are victims of or at risk of Child Exploitation (CSE).

They are among a 25-strong group who have been training at Fearon’s Gym and Boxing Academy in Osmaston Road in preparation for a charity boxing  event on Saturday September 14 at Queen’s Hall in London Road.

Safe and Sound CEO Tracy Harrison added: “Boxing and fitness is all about building confidence and self-esteem and that is just what our specialist team focus on when supporting young people to build stronger wings to transform their lives.

“The fact that everyone is supporting Safe and Sound’s Butterfly Appeal is even more of a fit with this event considering Ali’s immortal phrase ‘float like a butterfly ..sting like a bee!”

Event organiser and gym owner Clive Fearon (pictured front centre), who is a renowned personal trainer and former professional boxer, continued: “Previous charity boxing events have been very popular and raised a lot of money for local charities.

“We have recommended this group to support Safe and Sound.  It is a local charity supporting local children and young people which, as a community interest company, is totally in line with what we believe in.”

The prize on the night will be a gleaming championship belt which will be presented to the person who has raised the most for their chosen charity.

In strong contention is Chris Lloyd (32) from Allenton (pictured front second from right) who has already raised well over £1,000 including donations from Eco Drive, Spray Kings, Rapid Home Improvements and city pubs Noah’s Ark, Norman Arms and The Neptune.

He said: “I know a few people who have been supported by Safe and Sound in the past so it was a no-brainer when we were asked which charity we wanted to support.

“I’ve really enjoyed the training for this event and am still working hard to raise as much as I can.”

Dan Howie (32) from Chaddesden (pictured back second from left) will be competing in his third charity boxing event as part of his bid to lose enough weight to have surgery to remove excess skin.

Dan has already shed 26 stone following gastric sleeve surgery and has another 1.5 stone to go before he can stabilise and qualify for the final surgery.

“This has been a long journey but I am nearing my goal and raising money for this great local charity certainly helps to keep you focused.”

One of the oldest participants is Marc Stevens (40) who is Operations Manager at Safe and Sound.  At the last event, he raised £510 for the charity and also won his match in the first round.

He said: “Having raised my fitness levels, I wanted to continue and test myself with a longer bout. We have a great friendly but competitive spirit both in the ring and in seeing which of us can raise the most money.”

Safe and Sound Head of Fundraising Tom Stanyard concluded: “We are very grateful that these charity boxers have chosen to support our Butterfly Appeal.

“With the help of businesses, individuals and groups, our aim is to raise vital funds to help us to support even more young people who are vulnerable to or currently facing sexual exploitation as well as their families.”

For more information about how to support Safe and Sound, please visit www.safeandsoundgroup.org.ukand follow on Facebook and Twitter @safeandsoundgroup or email [email protected]

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Media enquiries: Sarah Jenkin-Jones, JJPR, Tel: 01332 515102/07951 945665; [email protected]

About Safe and Sound and the Butterfly Appeal

Safe and Sound was launched in 2002 and is the only local charity that is totally focused on transforming the lives of thousands of children and young people who are victims or are at risk of child sexual exploitation across Derbyshire.

Safe and Sound’s expertise came to the fore during the 2010 landmark case – Operation Retriever – which was Derby’s first prosecution for child sexual exploitation and abuse.  The charity’s specialist team supported every young person affected by the criminal actions of 13 defendants who were jailed in total for up to 22 years for 70 offences.

Safe and Sound’s specialist team provides individual support for children and young people from as young as eight up to the age of 18. They also raise awareness of the issue and the dangers facing children and young people through awareness programmes for schools, organisations, businesses and community groups.

Safe and Sound has launched the Butterfly Appeal #Buildingstrongwings to bring to fruition its vision for expanded services to support young people, families and wider community.

The charity’s future vision is extensive and includes:

–           A new outreach programme to provide hands-on support where young people are at their most vulnerable

–           Wider support for the families of victims and those at risk of CSE

–           Youth work programmes with new activities from music to sport to build young people’s confidence and resilience

–           Specialist psychological therapy programmes to tackle trauma, anxiety and depression

–           Longer term support for survivors moving into adulthood enabling them to mentor younger victims

–           An expanded community education programme to increase public awareness of CSE and the dangers facing young people

Supporters and ambassadors include the Chief Constable of Derbyshire who has chosen Safe and Sound as one of his chosen charities.

For more information about child sexual exploitation, Safe and Sound Derby and the Butterfly Appeal please visitwww.safeandsoundgroup.co.ukand follow on social media.A powerful video outlining young people’s experiences and why local people and businesses should support Safe and Sound is online at https://youtu.be/xjcb1y2cfGE

About CSE

In the UK today, one in 20 children suffer sexual abuse which includes child sexual exploitation.  That means that in every classroom in Derbyshire, there is at least one vulnerable young person in need of help.

Child Exploitation (commonly referred to as CSE) is a form of child sexual abuse and takes many different forms from rape and sexual assault to online grooming and encouraging children to share inappropriate images of themselves.

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

The key factor is that individuals or groups take advantage of young people by manipulating or deceiving them into sexual activity in exchange for something the victim needs or wants.  This could range from money and alcohol to less tangible things such as the attention that they crave at a vulnerable time in their lives.

 

International Day of Charity

International Day of Charity

Today (September 5th2019) is the International Day of Charity which puts the spotlight on the vital role that charities play in communities across the world.

The date was chosen by the United Nations General Assembly – in part to commemorate the anniversary of the passing away of Mother Teresa of Calcutta who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 ‘for work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress, which also constitute a threat to peace’.

Mother Teresa’s work on the streets of India had a strong focus on rescuing children and young people from sexual exploitation which gives International Day of Charity even greater resonance our local charity Safe and Sound.

Alarmingly, Child Exploitation (CSE) is just as prevalent in the UK and in our local communities here in Derbyshire as it is in poorer countries across the world.

In the UK today, one in twenty children are affected by child sexual abuse including exploitation. That means that in every classroom in Derbyshire, there is at least one vulnerable young person in need of help.

That is why the work of Safe and Sound is so important.

Established in 2002, we are the only local charity dedicated to supporting and transforming the lives of children and young people across Derbyshire who are victims of or at risk of CSE.

Our specialist team guide them towards the self-belief and courage they need to become stronger and no longer defined by the abuse of others.

In the past year when we have supported more than 100 local children and young people from communities across Derbyshire.  These have ranged from helping those at danger of online grooming to specialist support for victims of CSE to re-build their lives.

CSE is still regarded as a taboo and difficult subject. It takes many different forms from rape and sexual assault to online grooming and encouraging children to share inappropriate images of themselves.

The key factor is that individuals or groups take advantage of young people by manipulating or deceiving them into sexual activity in exchange for something the victim needs or wants.  This could range from money and alcohol to less tangible things such as the attention that they crave at a vulnerable time in their lives.

Awareness and understanding is therefore vital and, the past year, we have also reached out to nearly 2,000 local people and fellow professionals alike to raise awareness of CSE, thanks to the support of BBC Children in Need.

Young people at schools workshops overwhelmingly tell is that they have learnt something new about grooming, online dangers, consent and healthy relationships which is so important to keep them safe in this day and age.

In addition, we special projects have included:

–           The involvement of our young people in the Sound Sense music project, funded by the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner as a creative outlet for victims of CSE

–           Developing a specific awareness and support programme for young people and their families who are part of the new and emerging communities in the city

–           Developing two specialist assessment tools to better identify those at risk of CSE and to measure the effectiveness of support work

To expand our work across the county and reach more young people in new and innovative ways, we launched our Butterfly Appeal earlier this year.

Exciting new fundraising activities will be announced soon to build on the packed programme in the past year which has raised much-needed funds for us to support young people. Fundraisers have entered the Derby Half Marathon, joined sponsored walks and bike rides, attended quiz nights and even taken to the ring at a white-collar charity boxing event.

With the further support and generosity of businesses, funders and individuals for the Butterfly Appeal, we plan to develop new support programmes including:

  • A new outreach programme to provide hands-on support where young people are at their most vulnerable
  • Wider support for the families of victims and those at risk of CSE
  • Youth work programmes with new activities from music to sport to build young people’s confidence and resilience
  • Specialist psychological therapy programmes to tackle trauma, anxiety and depression
  • Longer term support for survivors moving into adulthood enabling them to mentor younger victims
  • An expanded community education programme to increase public awareness of CSE and the dangers facing young people

Therefore – as we celebrate International Day of Charity  – the last words should quite rightly come from our young people and here is what they have to say.

 ‘You were kind and nice, you helped me to keep safe. I learnt how to keep safe on the internet and don’t drink and do drugs.’

‘I think that Safe and Sound has lifted me up and I feel like a better person, I really appreciate that Safe and Sound have helped me a lot I feel like I have learned a lot so far.’

‘I have been listened to and taken seriously’

‘Staff have been reliable and there when I needed them’

‘I have not felt judged’