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By Thames Valley Police - 28th August 2014 11:30am
It's a sad fact that the news is overrun with criminal cases of sexual exploitation being exposed — so much so that these words are now familiar to us all and not just criminal justice jargon. The Rotherham case has been truly shocking. For the sake of natural justice, it's good news these cases are coming to light, but as we know this can sometimes take years for victims to come forward and realise what has happened to them.
Child sexual exploitation is hard to identify unless you are aware of the signs and what to do to stop it. Increasingly young people are becoming more exposed to risky situations in places we think they are safe, at home and school, through the internet.
So what is it?
Child sexual exploitation is a form of sexual abuse in which a young person is manipulated or forced into taking part in a sexual act often in return for attention, affection, gifts, money, drugs, alcohol or accommodation. Any young person can become a victim of child sexual exploitation. One of the main reasons they become a victim is because they are vulnerable and therefore easy to manipulate. Young people often show us rather than tell us that something is upsetting them. Sometimes things that seem like normal teenage behaviour could be a sign a young person is being sexually exploited.
Signs to watch out for:
- Talk of a new, older friend, boyfriend or girlfriend
- Coming home with unexplained money or gifts
- Becoming withdrawn, clingy or unusually secretive
- Unexplained changes in personality, mood swings and seeming insecure
- Nightmares or sleeping problems
- Running away, staying out overnight, missing school
- Changes in eating habits
- Spending a lot of time online talking to new people
- Losing contact with family and friends
The Buckinghamshire Children Safeguarding Board has launched a campaign asking people to Be Wise, Be Safe and Be a Mate so they can spot exploitation and stop it. Find out more about the signs of exploitation and how to report it at www.ruwise2it.co.uk, follow us on twitter @RUWiseBucks and join our thunderclap to raise awareness and stamp out exploitation in Bucks thndr.it/1iYnTEB
Thunderclap amplifies a message when you and your friends say it together online — think of it as an "online flash mob." Join our Thunderclap, and you and others will share the same message at the same time, spreading the message through Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr that cannot be ignored.
What you need to do to join our thunderclap for R U Wise 2 it:
Visit thndr.it/1iYnTEB and click to support via twitter, facebook or tumblr or all three!
If you support via twitter or facebook you will be asked to enter your login ID and password. You then have the option of personalising your tweet/post or just sticking with the pre-prepared campaign tweet. This takes literally 30 seconds!
Tweet/ post you're link the link to the thunder clap to your twitter followers/ facebook friends and ask them to join in too
And then look out for the 'lightning storm' on twitter!