Spotting the signs of child sexual exploitation

Child sexual exploitation involves a young person under the age of 18 being manipulated, forced, pressurised or coerced into taking part in a sexual act in exchange for something – and many parents don’t believe their family is at risk.

New research shows 93 per cent of parents have heard of child sexual exploitation, but almost a third (29 per cent) know little about it and over a third (36 per cent) believe it won’t affect their family.

That’s why ParentLine Scotland hosted Education Secretary Angela Constance today as she launched the first TV campaign in the UK to focus on child sexual exploitation.

A new TV advert and website - show how conversations online can potentially lead to a young person placing themselves in danger and highlight how to spot the warning signs.

Jill Cook, Service Manager at ParentLine Scotland, said: “I am delighted that ParentLine was chosen to launch the CSE campaign. It is very important to raise greater awareness on the issues of child sexual exploitation and to equip parents and carers with better understanding and advice of the signs to look out for.

“The safety and wellbeing of young people is of paramount importance. For young people the internet is a place, not a thing, and just like when they are going out, parents would want to know where their child is going and with whom. I’d encourage any parent concerned that their child may be involved in sexual exploitation to call ParentLine for advice and support.”

ParentLine has recently updated a guide to protecting children – reinforcing the message that everyone has a part to play in looking out for and protecting children.

Angela Constance said: “Child sexual exploitation is happening to boys and girls in Scotland. By its very nature this form of child abuse is often hidden and many young people who are affected don’t realise they are a victim and will not ask for help.

“The first step in tackling this abhorrent crime is understanding it can happen to anyone. It can take many forms – online, through social media or on phones, as well as in person on a one to one or group basis.

“Barnardo’s Scotland directly supported 266 young people who have been victims or were at risk last year, but these figures may be the tip of the iceberg.

“New research shows that most parents don’t know a lot about it and don’t believe that their family is at risk. This campaign aims to change that and help parents and young people understand the warning signs and prevent the abuse before it takes place.”

Children 1st is one of several partners – including Barnardo’s Scotland, NSPCC Scotland, ChildLine and Police Scotland – that are supporting the campaign.

Visit 'CSE the signs' website.

Anyone who would like to talk through a concern about a child can call ParentLine Scotland on 08000 28 22 33.