We take CSE very seriously here at AFA. We recognise the risks and challenges presented by Child Sexual Exploitation, and that it is our responsibility to identify young people in our care who are at risk of CSE. We work with other agencies to safeguard and protect these young people.
What is CSE?
You may have head the term being used before, but what exactly is CSE?
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 official definition of CSE is –
“Sexual exploitation of children and young people under 18 involves exploitative situations, contexts and relationships where young people (or a third person or persons) receive ‘something’ (e.g. food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, affection, gifts, money) as a result of them performing, and/or another or others performing on them, sexual activities.
Child sexual exploitation can occur through the use of technology without the child’s immediate recognition; for example, being persuaded to post sexual images on the internet/mobile phones without 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.”
This definition of child sexual exploitation was created by the UK National Working Group for Sexually Exploited Children and Young People (NWG) and is used in statutory guidance for England.
Who are the National Working Group (NWG)?
The National Working Group are doing some brilliant work in trying to tackle CSE. They are working to raise awareness and educate people about the impact of CSE and what we can do to help compact CSE.
The vulnerability of young people is used to manipulate them into these inappropriate acts. As a community we need to help protect our children from unsafe individuals by educating ourselves and educating our young people.
The NWG hold an annual National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day on March 18th. Its aim is to highlight the issues surrounding Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE). They want to encourage everyone to think, spot and speak outagainst abuse, and adopt a zero-tolerance approach to adults developing inappropriate relationships with children and children forming inappropriate sexual relationships with their peers.
This is a good opportunity for us to all get involved and support the NWG in their work and work in partnership.
AFA’s CSE Strategy
Our CSE strategy aims to ensure a robust, co-ordinated response to CSE across the agency by focussing on 3 main priorities:
- Identifying CSE – improving awareness, knowledge, understanding and recognition of CSE across the agency.
- Preventing CSE – ensuring children and young people and their carers have the right information and provision to help them keep safe and make healthy choices.
- Protecting Children and Young People – ensuring that plans are in place to safeguard and support children in our care who are at risk or who have experienced CSE.
The implementation of the CSE strategy is overseen by our Senior Management Operations Group. Jag Kaur, Senior Placement Manager, is our CSE Lead Practitioner. Jag has developed a number of tools and resources to support staff and carers to safeguard children at risk of CSE, including the Triple T campaign encouraging children to “Talk, Talk, Talk” to protect themselves from CSE.
CSE advice and resources
As a foster carer you will feel a real sense of responsibility to the children in your care. Equipping yourself with a bank of handy resources to refer to is key for providing sound advice, especially in difficult situations.
Real Love Rocks by Barnardo’s
Real Love Rocks is a health relationship and CSE team based within the Barnardo’s charity. Their aim is to support and equip young people, parents and professionals with the information and confidence to talk about CSE, healthy relationships and staying safe.
There is also a section for Young People on the website. It’s a great resource to encourage the young people in your care to visit if they have any questions. Sometimes they may find it more comfortable to learn by themselves rather than asking an adult awkward questions.
Parent Zone is a brilliant website which gives information and advice to parents and carers on the most popular social media apps and gaming systems that children use. Its aim is to make sure parents and carers are aware of what the apps do and know of any privacy perks or concerns with them.
Alongside the information about apps there is some more general advice related to other influences in your child’s life. Peer pressure, self- esteem and digital detoxing are just a few of the topics covered.
Barnardo’s Wud U? App
Wud U? is a free educational tool that aims to show young people the behaviours that could put them at risk of being sexually exploited, through illustrated, interactive stories. Find out more on the Barnardo’s website.
It’s a good tool to use or refer young people to so they can identify risk through different stories. Even if they choose the wrong path, within the app, there is guidance about why they should make a better choice next time.
The app can be downloaded from the Windows Store, App Store or Google Play. Encourage the children in your care to download the app and play along.
Tea and Consent
The ‘Tea and Consent’ video is a fun yet effective way of illustrating to young people in your care how to recognise consent.
Bright Futures Personal Safety App
Bright Futures have developed an App which provides information and advice about a range of issues affecting young people. Issues include:
- Substance misuse and legal highs
- Child trafficking
- Modern-day slavery
- Confidence and self-esteem
- Mental health and self-harm
- Online and e-safety
- Domestic abuse.
Advice about MyLOL
There were a series of articles written in January 2017 (like this one) warning parents of the MyLOL App. The app and website is a dating app aimed at teenagers. Parents were being advised to delete the app from their children’s phones and block the website as there were concerns it was being used by sexual predators.
Although the articles are a couple of years old now, MyLOL is still available so it’s still something to be aware of.
The Law on Sex
A helpful factsheet which summarises key points of the UK law relating to sexual behaviour. Great for brushing up your knowledge and referring young people to if they have any questions.
Teach young children about Safe Touch
There is a lot of helpful resources out there to teach young children about safe touch, this article by North Shore Paediatric Therapy is a handy place to start.
Another way to teach the children in your care about safe touch is the Underwear Rule.
NSPCC Healthy Sexual Behaviour
The NSPCC has some really useful information on their website about healthy sexual behaviour and how to spot warning signs that something may not be right. It is aimed at parents and carers to give you all the information you may need and to point you in the right direction if you need help.
You can read a copy of AFA’s CSE strategy on our Policies website.