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Maidstone schools learn about Child Sexual Exploitation

Maidstone schools learn about Child Sexual Exploitation
An innovative and powerful drama production has been shown to secondary school children in Maidstone to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation and prevent them from becoming victims.

A performance of Chelsea’s Choice was shown in three sessions to 200 pupils on Thursday 19 October at Mid-Kent College.

The event was arranged by Kent Police’s Community Safety Unit in the town, using some of the money Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott gave to Maidstone Community Safety Partnership.

Child Sexual Exploitation (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 man. It explores a number of themes to raise awareness of CSE among young people including what makes a healthy and unhealthy relationship. It included advice on safe internet use and ‘sexting’, what is meant by ‘consent’, the grooming process and where to go for help and advice.

Inspector Mark Hedges said:

'Safeguarding children is a matter for everyone and by working together we hope to inform and prevent child sexual abuse.

'This production is a very effective way of raising awareness and getting the message across to young people in our community in a way they understand and can relate to.

'It is often the case that they don’t always realise they are being exploited and ‘Chelsea’s Choice’ will give them the skills and knowledge to protect themselves.'

The PCC Mr Scott said:

'Part of my role is to invest in projects that make people safer in Kent. I gave Community Safety Partnerships more than £500,000 this year to use as they see fit to support the delivery of my Police and Crime Plan.

'Chelsea’s Choice certainly fits the bill because Child Sexual Exploitation is a new and emerging threat which can only be tackled by the police, partner agencies and the public all working together.'

Advice on how to spot the signs of CSE and where to get help and support is available on the Kent Police website.

If you're concerned a child is already suffering or is likely to be harmed, or if you're a young person worried about being sexually exploited, call police on 101 quoting Operation Willow.

Alternatively, call the #SaySomething helpline anonymously on 116 000.

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