The May half term holidays will see the successful I Didn’t Know campaign being promoted in cinemas across Essex to further raise awareness of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE), particularly among young people and their parents.
The campaign aims to increase and support community understanding of CSE and demonstrate how to recognise it, and what to do to get help and support.
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. The countywide campaign originally launched back in March as a partnership project between Essex, Southend and Thurrock Safeguarding Children Boards and Essex Police.
The aim of the campaign is to break down some of the myths around CSE and encourage members of the public to report any concerns they may have.
Councillor Dick Madden, Essex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Adults and Children said: “Raising awareness of child sexual exploitation is a big challenge, as there are many myths and stereotypes linked to CSE from recent cases in the news.
This film shows the community that any child in any community can be vulnerable to exploitation. Everyone can make a difference by being vigilant to the signs of CSE and reporting their concerns.”
Simon Hart, Independent Chair Essex Safeguarding Children Board said: “CSE is a hugely important issue that can have significant consequences for victims. Showing this film in cinemas is a big opportunity to highlight to parents exactly what signs they need to look out for if they are concerned about their child.”
Deputy Chief Constable Matthew Horne said: “There is no more important issue for Essex Police than protecting children from crimes such as child sexual exploitation. This campaign is about raising awareness of CSE, what to look out for, how to spot the signs and where to get help. This crime affects people from every community from diverse backgrounds and by getting our message into cinemas across the county we hope to reach those who need help.”
Roger Hirst, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said: “We must help families to recognise the signs of CSE and take steps to guard against it. The stories in this film are based on real life testimony, and I applaud the courage of the young people who’ve contributed to this project. It is encouraging that a number of agencies, including Essex Police and the local authority Safeguarding boards are working together to protect our young people. I urge everyone – whether you’re a parent, a teacher, a doctor, a taxi driver or just on a night out – to look out for the signs of CSE, and report any concerns you may have to police.”
The campaign will continue to run locally with each district in Essex supporting the campaign in their communities.
Everyone is able to access the resources to download and print via the Essex Police www.essex.police.uk./cse or LSCB websites and business owners in particular are encouraged to become involved as research has shown some of the locations in which young people are being groomed by perpetrators include cafes, taxi ranks, shopping centres and fast food outlets.
You can support the campaign on social media #KnowAboutCSE , visit essex.police.uk/cse to download resources and watch videos.