Tackling Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) will be the focus of a multi-agency summit hosted by West Sussex County Council on Tuesday (September 29).
The event at Parkside in Horsham will be opened by leader Louise Goldsmith and will feature a range of national expert guest speakers.
CSE is a form of child abuse which involves the manipulation or coercion of young people under the age of 18 into sexual activity.
It can involve children and young people being given drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and other presents by their abusers to facilitate the abuse. CSE takes many forms from sexual bullying and can be carried out by groups, individuals and peers.
Mrs Goldsmith said: “The Standing Up Against CSE Summit is being held to raise the profile of CSE across West Sussex and to make sure everyone is doing everything possible to help prevent this happening to young people.
“Everyone attending the summit will be invited to make a partnership pledge to stand up against CSE and we hope the day will help to focus people’s mind as to what more could be done.”
Speakers at the summit include:
• Ann Coffey MP - chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Runaway and Missing Children and Adults and the author of Real Voices, an independent report into CSE in Greater Manchester.
• Ray McMorrow - a specialist team member of the National Working Group Network for CSE, who has previously worked in the health service for 35 years in mental health and safeguarding children’s nursing.
• Hannah Farncombe - deputy director for Corporate Parenting & Safeguarding at Oxfordshire County Council. She has contributed to the whole-system change in Oxfordshire which has been acknowledged as best practice in CSE.
Delegates will also hear from Sussex Police about the work being developed locally and what needs to be done in partnership to address CSE more effectively.
Peter Evans, WSCC’s cabinet member for children – start of life, said: “Sadly this is an issue which can affect anyone from any walk of life and we simply must make sure that people are aware of the signs and know what to do if they spot them.”
According to the county council some of the signs of CSE to look out for in young people could be:
• Staying out overnight.
• Being missing from home or skipping school.
• Being given money, clothes or jewellery by a grown-up outside the family.
• Having an older boyfriend or girlfriend.
• Taking drugs or drinking alcohol.
• Losing contact with family and friends their own age.
• Having low self-esteem.
• Being secretive about where they are going.
• Chatting to people online they have never met.
Jimmy Doyle, independent chair of West Sussex Safeguarding Child Board, said: “This form of abuse has introduced an added complexity to the safeguarding task due to the manner in which young people can be drawn into extremely harmful situations.
“The West Sussex Safeguarding Children Board has developed a robust local strategy and plan to tackle child sexual exploitation. This will help to support the response of practitioners working with children and young people who may be vulnerable to exploitation.”
More information can be found on the West Sussex Safeguarding Children’s Board website www.westsussexscb.org.uk
To report concerns people can call the county council’s Children’s Access Point (CAP) on 01403 229900 (9am-5pm Monday–Friday) or email firstname.lastname@example.org
This is a secure email system which can only be accessed by professionals.
People can contact the Police on 101 (or 999 in an emergency).
People can also contact Childline on 0800 11 11 or the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000.
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