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Say something if you see something - CSE awareness day #HelpingHands

18th March 2015

18 March is the first ever Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Awareness day and key figures from Hertfordshire are joining forces with national charity National Working Group (NWG) to encourage local people to report signs of sexual abuse.

cse-awareness-day-18-march-helpinghands-3.jpgAs part of Hertfordshire’s ongoing ‘Say Something if You See Something’ campaign, representatives of Hertfordshire County Council, Hertfordshire Constabulary, Hertfordshire Safeguarding Children Board and District Councils will be joining forces on Wednesday to raise awareness of CSE across the county.

Throughout the day, council leaders, senior police officers and front line staff will be pledging their support for the campaign on social media using #HelpingHands and #CSEDay15.

Signs to look out for in a young person include:

  • Regularly missing from home or care and staying out all night
  • Physical injuries
  • Drug or alcohol misuse
  • Involvement in offending
  • Repeat sexually transmitted infections, pregnancies or terminations
  • Absent from school
  • Receipt of gifts from unknown sources
  • Recruiting others into exploitative situation
  • Poor mental health
  • Self-harm
  • Change in physical appearance
  • Friends with significantly older people
  • Evidence of sexual bullying and/or vulnerability through the internet and/or social networking sites
  • Estranged from their family

Hertfordshire County Council Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Richard Roberts said: “We need everyone to work as the eyes and ears of our community, to be vigilant and help keep children and young people safe. I’m pleased that initial feedback suggests our work is making a difference. Everyone has the power to prevent child sexual exploitation and we want to get the message out there: ‘Say Something if You See Something’, call the police on 101 and ask for Halo - help stamp out CSE."

Phil Picton, chairman of Hertfordshire’s Safeguarding Children Board, said: “It takes everybody working together to tackle CSE. Our ‘Say Something if You See Something’ campaign encourages staff of local businesses, like hotels, pubs, clubs and taxi firms to take responsibility for protecting young people. In Hertfordshire we’re dedicated to raising awareness of the signs of sexual abuse. We urge residents to make their own pledge and help keep children safe. Together we can create more positive outcomes for our vulnerable young people.”

David Lloyd, Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire, said: “Whilst police and the Local Authority are working hard to tackle CSE, the issue is not widespread in Hertfordshire. However, protecting young people from the predatory offenders who do commit these crimes is a priority.

“Working together our efforts really can make a difference in safeguarding young people, particularly as some do not actually see themselves as a victim because they have been groomed by their abuser. If you have any information about CSE then please do report it.”

Assistant Chief Constable Mick Ball said: “We are fully supportive of any event which highlights child sexual exploitation and are backing the National Awareness Day throughout the force.

“We must remember however, that child sexual exploitation can affect any child, anytime, anywhere and our efforts, jointly with our partners, to protect young people and bring offenders to justice is very much on-going. I would like to thank those across the county who sign up to pledge their support on the day and encourage others to take the time to familiarise themselves with the signs to look out for and report any concerns. Together we really can make even more of a difference.”

Hertfordshire residents are asked to get involved in the #HelpingHands initiative by writing a personal pledge on their hands and posting a photo on social media to reach their own network of friends and family, using the hashtag #HelpingHands. The pledge can be anything, from speaking out, to educating others about CSE.

There’s more about #HelpingHands here.

For more information about CSE, visit: http://www.hertsdirect.org/services/healthsoc/childfam/childprotection/hertssafboard/childexplo/
Advice is also available at: http://www.herts.police.uk/advice/child_sexual_exploitation.aspx

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