Hanging out with older people, skipping school, being secretive? These are just some of the signs of child exploitation, and we all have a responsibility to spot them.
Hundreds of children and young people are exploited every year, so Warwickshire County Council (WCC) and partners are joining the national fight against child exploitation for Child Exploitation Awareness Day which takes place today, 18 March.
Child exploitation can manifest itself in different ways, including child abuse, sexual exploitation, county lines drug dealing, coerced criminal activity, human trafficking and online grooming. It is a crime that can affect any child; anywhere, anytime and regardless of their social or ethnic background or gender.
Child Exploitation Awareness Day encourages everyone to think about it so they may understand, spot and speak out against exploitation and adopt a zero tolerance to adults developing inappropriate relationships with children. Earlier this week at Full Council on Tuesday 15 March, Warwickshire councillors supported the powerful campaign themselves, holding up pledges to learn how to recognise the signs of exploitation and report it if they see something that’s not right.
Cllr O'donnell, Cllr Seccombe and Cllr Spencer make pledges for Child Exploitation Awareness Day
Support for the awareness day follows amplifies the county’s Something’s Not Right campaign, a partnership initiative between the council, Warwickshire Police, Barnardo’s and the Police and Crime Commissioner. Over the last year the campaign has raised awareness amongst Warwickshire residents of all forms of child exploitation to encourage everyone, not just parents, carers and professionals working with children, to tackle the issues of the exploitation of our children.
The aim of the widely publicised campaign is to encourage residents to learn how to spot the signs of exploitation and throughout 2021 the advertising achieved 3.6 million impressions (the number of times one of the adverts was seen by residents in Warwickshire) and over 22,000 website visits from parents and carers, young people, professionals and members of the community across the county. Throughout 2021, Warwickshire Police investigated X% more cases of exploitation vs 2020. The more residents report that something not right, the more police and partners can do to investigate and stop it from happening.
There are some key signs to look out for in a child or young person including, receiving expensive gifts and money, hanging out with older people, using drugs and drinking alcohol, mood swings, self-harming, going missing, staying out late, being secretive and skipping school to name just a few.
Everyone has a responsibility to protect children and young people, and there are things people can do to help tackle exploitation:
- Learn what the signs of child exploitation are so it is easier to recognise
- Know where to go to report anything that’s not right
- Build trusting relationships with young people
- Support the Helping Hands campaign and write a message of support for victims of exploitation and share it on social media using the hashtags #CEADay22 #HelpingHands #WarwickshireCE
- Share social media messages from WCC and partners across social media to spread awareness
- Wear something red on Child Exploitation Awareness Day (18 March) to show support
Warwickshire County Councillor Jeff Morgan, portfolio holder for children and families said:
“I would like to call on the community to support find out more about child exploitation and support awareness day today, it is another step in the process of spreading the word and reducing the abuse of our children. However, we all have a responsibility to spot the signs of child exploitation and report it every day.
“The Something’s Not Right campaign has achieved terrific momentum and has hopefully reminded everyone in Warwickshire that we all have a responsibility to protect children and young people and keep them safe so that they can reach their full potential.”
Detective Superintendent Pete Hill said: “Abusing a child in any way is reprehensible and tackling the issue is a priority for Warwickshire Police.
“The abuse of children can be difficult to spot so this is why we are asking the public, parents, teachers, carers and anyone who has contact with children to be aware of the signs and report any concerns to us.”
To learn more about child exploitation and the support available, visit www.somethingsnotright.co.uk.
If you would like to raise awareness of child exploitation in Warwickshire on social media, use #WarwickshireCE and #CEADay22.
Where to go for help and support
- For information on how to spot the signs of child exploitation, visit https://www.somethingsnotright.co.uk/spot-the-signs/
- For information and advice go to www.somethingsnotright.co.uk
- If you are worried about a child or young person, contact the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub between 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, on 01926 414144
- You can also make a report to Warwickshire Police via their website or by calling 101, or you can contact your local Children and Family Centre.
- Contact Crimestoppers confidentially and anonymously on 0800 555 111.
- Talk to trained counsellors on the 24-hour helplines run by ChildLine on 0800 11 11 and the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000
- If someone is in immediate danger, call the police on 999