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PCC backs Child Sexual Exploitation Day 2017

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A hard-hitting drama production has been shown to secondary school children in Kent in a bid to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation and to prevent them becoming victims.

A performance of ‘Chelsea’s Choice’ was shown to the pupils in support of the NWG National Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Awareness Day 2017.

It was arranged by Operation Willow, the multi-agency team co-located at Kent Police Headquarters to respond to CSE within the county.

CSE is a form of sexual abuse that involves the manipulation and/or coercion of young people under the age of 18 into sexual activity.

‘Chelsea’s Choice’ tells the story of a 15-year-old girl who has fallen out with her family and friends and meets an older guy. It explores a number of themes to raise awareness of CSE among young people including what makes a healthy and unhealthy relationship; safe internet use and ‘sexting’, what is meant by ‘consent’, the grooming process and where to go for help and advice.

It also helps adults who work, or come into contact with young people by raising awareness of the warning signs and the journey that young people have been on that has resulted in them being exploited.

Around 400 pupils in Years 9 and 10 from secondary schools were invited to attend the production of Chelsea’s Choice on Wednesday 15 March 2017.

It is one of many events and workshops taking place during the week being co-ordinated by Kent County Council and Medway Council with Kent Police, community safety units, education and children’s services who are all involved in safeguarding children and young people.

The campaign aims to highlight the issues surrounding CSE; encouraging everyone to think, spot and speak out against abuse and adopt a zero tolerance to adults developing inappropriate relationships with children or children developing inappropriate relationships with other children.

Events include training for staff at colleges, foster carers, and people working in locations popular with young people, such as fast food outlets. Police officers will also talk to taxi drivers, bar staff, clubs and hotels encouraging them to be aware, to spot any potential victims of abuse and what to do about it.

Detective Chief Inspector Angie Chapman from the Child Sexual Exploitation Unit said:

‘Safeguarding children is everybody’s business and by working together we want to inform, educate and prevent this form of child sexual abuse.

 

‘Chelsea’s Choice is an innovative way of raising awareness among the target audience, the young people, who don’t always realise that they are being exploited or see themselves as victims, and it will give them the skills and knowledge to protect themselves.

‘We are also supporting the campaign to make more people in the community aware of the signs to look out for and how they can identify and help a young person either being abused or at risk of being exploited.’

Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott said:

‘Child Sexual Exploitation is happening in our communities right now – it is online, in our schools and universities, and in the home. Indeed, when I consulted with residents and partners across Kent and Medway last year, CSE was the issue which most people said was important to them.

‘I’m supporting National CSE Awareness Day this week because it is vital that the police, the public, partners and young people themselves understand this emerging threat and how we can all work together to keep the most vulnerable people in our society safe. Kent Police and its Op Willow partners are doing fantastic work but all of us should feel empowered to say something if we see something.’

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