National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day

On the second National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day our Projects Manager Becky Warnock gives a detailed look into the work that PhotoVoice has been doing with the National Working Group.  

18th March 2016 marks the second National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day and here at PhotoVoice we want to be part of raising awareness around the issue.

Our partners on the project Having Our Say3 (HOS3), the National Working Group (NWG) – a network of over 10 000 practitioners who disseminate information down through services and professionals working on the issue of child sexual exploitation (CSE) and trafficking within the UK; are leading the campaign to ensure widespread public knowledge of the issue.

Child Sexual Exploitation is defined as:

“The sexual exploitation of children and young people under 18 involves exploitative situations, contexts and relationships where young people (or a third person or persons) may receive ‘something’ (e.g. food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, affection, gifts, money) as a result of performing, and/or others performing on them, sexual activities.

Child sexual exploitation can occur through use of technology without the child’s immediate recognition, for example the persuasion to post sexual images on the internet/mobile phones with no immediate payment or gain. In all cases those exploiting the child/young person have power over them by virtue of their age, gender, intellect, physical strength and/or economic or other resources. Violence, coercion and intimidation are common, involvement in exploitative relationships being characterised in the main by the child or young person’s limited availability of choice resulting from their social/economic and/or emotional vulnerability”

The success of our previous project Having Our Say Too, gave us great insight and understanding of this issue; which we have built on as part of the next phase of the project. We are currently preparing for the delivery of the third and final round of workshops, in partnership with the Barnado’s SECOS team in Middlesborough. This blog also reflects on some of our progress to date. So far, 9 participants have achieved a BTEC level 1 qualification as part of the project, and we have engaged with 16 young people.

"Depressed" ©Zarin 2015 | PhotoVoice | NWG | 'Having Our Say 3' | UK

©Zarin 2015 | PhotoVoice | NWG | ‘Having Our Say 3’ | UK

The HOS3 project was developed to address gaps in the previous resource, tailoring it for specific development to target key at risk young people who are often over looked in the sector. In the previous workshop phases, in Croydon and Manchester, two of the young people from the completed projects chose to explore specific parts of their identity that they (and researchers) feel made them vulnerable. One explored how his racial identity and consequential increased feelings of isolation left him finding engaging with others difficult – and the effect of this on his mental health. Another explores how her autism made processing her experiences difficult. These stories are powerful messages and insights for practitioners and provide vital information in representations and help to break down stereotypes of victims and challenge the perception that the issue only effects certain groups.

As part of our hopes to raise awareness around the issue today, we want to signpost you to some key resources that will help you learn more about the issue, and what to do if you are concerned about a young person.

If you are concerned about someone you know, Barnado’s have created this animation to help identify the key warning signs that a young person might be at risk. For more information and a detailed insight into the subject Barnado’s have this interesting report into their work.

The NSPCC’s diary article is informative and helps to share the positive impact that support can have on a young person affected by CSE. The NSPCC have also partnered with O2 to bring this online safety helpline.

A full suite of marketing and campaign materials are available for partners and supporters to download from the website. And check out NWG’s main website too!

Feature image – “Self Inflict”  ©Zarin 2015 | PhotoVoice | NWG | ‘Having Our Say 3’ | UK