Hampshire County Council calls for more awareness of child sexual exploitation

On National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Raising Day (18 March), Hampshire County Council has urged the public to learn how to spot signs that a child may be being manipulated or coerced into sexual activity – and to report any suspected abuse

Mar 16 2022

Councillor Roz Chadd, Executive Lead Member for Children’s Services, said:

“Child exploitation takes place in all areas and all parts of society, and it’s everybody’s business to speak up if they suspect a child or young person is being exploited. You can report suspected abuse through the Hampshire County Council website and our multi-agency safeguarding hub will investigate every case.

“Our Children’s Services ‘Willow’ Team is nationally recognised as a leader and innovator of multi-agency working and education in this field. The team has trained thousands of professionals to spot and deal with child exploitation, and also works directly with children in the community and schools, while forging strong partnerships with police, education, health, and other partners. 

“But even with excellent teams and procedures in place to keep children and young people safe, we can only beat this problem if we all learn to think, spot and speak out against abuse, and adopt zero tolerance to adults developing inappropriate relationships with children.”

Children and young people who are the victims of sexual exploitation often do not recognise that they are being exploited. Abusers undertake a process of grooming which targets a child’s vulnerability, making them feel loved or wanted and as though the relationship is normal, when in fact the child is being controlled through intimidation, fear, or violence.

Some signs to be alert to that may indicate a child is being groomed for sexual exploitation are: 

going missing for periods of time or regularly returning home late
regularly missing school or not taking part in education
appearing with unexplained gifts or new possessions
associating with other young people involved in exploitation
having older boyfriends or girlfriends
suffering from sexually transmitted infections
mood swings or changes in emotional wellbeing
drug and alcohol misuse
displaying inappropriate sexualised behaviour

More information is available on Hampshire County Council’s Safeguarding pages.