High profile child sexual exploitation, (CSE), cases like those in Rotherham and Rochdale have led many people to assume that all CSE victims are white British girls. But it’s not the case - Barnardo’s know that CSE affects children regardless of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, faith, disability, background or upbringing.
Worryingly, the stereotype means that some front-line workers may be missing children affected by CSE. We think that a better understanding of the diversity of CSE victims in England is essential to tackling this vile form of child abuse.
Professionals need to receive training to help them identify children who have experienced, or are at risk of CSE and Barnardo’s also wants relevant organisations to work better together and share information on the diversity of victims.
Additionally, it’s critical that school lessons focus on sex and healthy relationships to help children feel more confident in being able to identify possible risky situations. This should include information on all types of relationships, not just heterosexual relationships.
It’s vital that young people, families and experts understand that this horrific form of child abuse can affect any child or young person. Assumptions must not be made when trying to identify sexual exploitation as each victim has their own vulnerabilities. Recognising the diversity of victims will help ensure CSE victims are identified and get the support they so desperately need.
Director Barnardo’s East Region