South Yorkshire Police and its partners will be taking part in a range of activities across the region to mark Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day 2016, which takes place tomorrow (Friday 18 March).
National charity NSPCC defines child sexual exploitation (CSE) as: a type of sexual abuse in which children are sexually exploited for money, power or status. Children or young people may be tricked into believing they are in a loving or consensual relationship, and may be invited to parties and given drugs and alcohol.
Officers and representatives from a range of agencies, including social care, the local authorities and Barnardo’s, will be carrying out awareness raising activity and talking to communities about this type of child abuse and some of the warning signs that people should look out for.
Detective Chief Inspector Melanie Palin from South Yorkshire Police’s Protecting Vulnerable People Unit said: “We work continuously to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation and to encourage people to seek support whether through us or one of the other support agencies. National Awareness day is an ideal opportunity to seek even wider recognition of this type of abuse.
“Child sexual exploitation is child abuse and is occurring in all of our communities. We can only stop it if people who are aware of it tell us about it.”
There will be stands in Doncaster Interchange/Frenchgate shopping centre and Rotherham Interchange at the following times tomorrow:
Doncaster – from 2pm onwards
Rotherham – from 3pm onwards
Also in Rotherham, officers will be part of Barnardo’s and Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council’s Reach Out event, which will be in Effingham Street in the town centre from 2pm tomorrow.
At Barnsley Interchange on Saturday 19 March, officers and Barnardo’s representatives will host a stall between 11am and 2pm.
In Sheffield this week, the multi-agency child sexual exploitation team are holding drop in sessions at Star House for children and young people to come along for advice and support.
DCI Palin continued: “We hope that people will take this opportunity to come and talk to us, to ask questions and seek advice. If they don’t feel able to do this they can visit our website which gives information about not only contacting us but also other groups who can provide support.”
The force will also be taking part in the national social media awareness raising campaign, using the hashtag #CSEDay16.
For more information about the force’s work to tackle child sexual exploitation, please visit www.southyorks.police.uk/spotthesigns
Anyone with concerns about child sexual exploitation should contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or the national helpline Say Something on 116 000. Always call 999 in an emergency.