CHILDLINE ADVICE: New initiative to help children at risk of sexual exploitation
New figures released by the NSPCC showed there were an average of three child sexual exploitation crimes logged by police in the North East every day last year, with 1,174 offences logged by Cleveland, Durham and Northumbria police forces in in 2021/22.
Our Childline service is here around the clock to support any young person who has experienced abuse, and the number of counselling sessions across the UK on sexual exploitation and abuse rose from 5,962 to 6,230 in the same period.
Some young people have told us they were manipulated into performing sexual activities after being given money, drugs or love and affection, while others were sexually exploited after being trafficked from their home after being threatened with violence or the promise of a better life.
This week, we’re launching a new campaign called The Full Story which aims to help children at risk of sexual exploitation.
It includes a series of videos sharing stories from young people who have experienced exploitation which we hope will encourage those at risk of, or already suffering sexual exploitation, to seek help.
As well as helping young people understand what sexual exploitation is and what a healthy relationship looks like, Childline is focused on getting more young people to connect with us so we can offer immediate help and confidential support.
Posters have been put up at bus stops, motorway service stations, cinemas, colleges, Pupil Referral Units, youth centres, hostels, children’s homes, GP surgeries and sexual health clinics, and our videos will be posted on social media too.
But while more children are contacting us for support, we know there may be reasons which prevent some young people from speaking out.
Perhaps they are being exploited by a family member, someone in a position of authority, or even a girlfriend or boyfriend.
Whatever they’re experiencing and whoever is responsible, we want young people to know they are never to blame for what’s happening to them.
It’s essential all young people have an awareness of this issue, and know that no matter what their circumstances, Childline is here to help and support them.