Young people to learn about spotting child sexual exploitation from peers
Child sexual exploitation was one of the hard-hitting elements at a recent youth conference which looked at how young people can form healthy relationships.
The Hackney Youth Parliament, supported by Young Hackney and working in partnership with the City and Hackney Safeguarding Children Board (CHSCB), announced to the audience of 50 13-19-year-olds, that tackling child sexual exploitation (CSE) would be the focus of a new campaign early next year.
The peer-led campaign comes on the back of a current awareness-raising drive, run jointly by the Council, CHSCB and NSPCC, which helps parents and professionals spot the signs of gang involvement, sexual exploitation or radicalisation in children.
The theme of the conference, held at Young Hackney The Edge youth centre on Saturday 14 November, was Mind, Body and Soul. As well as talks from members of the Youth Parliament, there was a short drama about CSE performed by Alter Ego Theatre, and a range of activities focusing on making young people in Hackney feel happier, healthier and safer.
It was my pleasure to speak at the conference to inform young people about what the Council is doing in relation to child sexual exploitation.
The campaign by youth parliament members will help prime young people to understand and read the danger signs that their peers, friends, or indeed they themselves, are being sexually exploited.
This, along with our joint campaign with the NSPCC, forms part of our overall mission to stop those who are putting our children at risk.
Eighteen-year-old Beth Foster-Ogg, UK Youth Parliament and Hackney Youth Parliament member, said: “The youth conference was a unique experience; a chance to share our opinions and let our voices be heard. We feel the campaign to tackle child sexual exploitation in the City and in Hackney will be important because it is a sensitive topic, not discussed widely enough.
“We need to encourage young people to say something if they see something – they have to know the signs of CSE, and they have to know who to speak to if they are concerned for a friend or someone they know.’’
If you are an adult who is concerned about a young person who may be caught up in gangs, sexual exploitation or radicalisation, you can call the NSPCC helpline at any time on: 0808 800 5000; email firstname.lastname@example.org; or text 88858.
Children and young people who need to talk to someone can phone ChildLine at any time of the day on: 0800 1111; or chat one-to-one on the ChildLine website:www.childline.org.uk