We all have a role to play when it comes to protecting children - CSE awareness day 2019

14 March 2019

Over the past twelve months approximately 650 council staff have been trained up to spot the signs of child sexual exploitation (CSE).

Monday 18 March is Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Awareness Day which seeks to proactively encourage everyone to think, spot and speak out against child sexual exploitation.

CSE is a form of child sexual abuse where an individual or a group of people takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child into sexual activity for which the child receives something they want or need in exchange. This could be food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, money, gifts or affection. A young victim involved may initially think the relationship is consensual.

Training our staff to recognise the warning signs of a children being groomed and coerced into sex or criminal behaviours continues to be a Southwark Council priority. 
Over the past year we have run awareness workshops with 120 housing officers, parks managers and community warden, with 30 youth workers, hundreds of parents and nearly 500 council cleaning staff. All of these people are out and about in Southwark neighbourhoods and the eyes and ears of child protection. There is more training planned for 2019 for teachers, parents, parking wardens and for all staff who make home visits.

The aim of the training is to give council staff  more confidence to recognise and take action when they  seethe signs of children being coerced into having sex, or to carry drugs or forced into other criminal actions.

By having so many council staff trained in CSE awareness means that the police and children’s social care have more information about who may be at risk so that preventative support can be offered.

One staff member from the resident’s services said “[it is] essential for all front line staff to understand [CSE]”, a cleaner added “Now we have a clear idea of what to look out for”.

In addition to council led training for our staff, and soon for community volunteers,  we are also working alongside Barnardo’s to train anyone who works in Southwark’s night time economy, including bar and restaurant staff, taxi drivers, hotel workers and security teams.

Cllr Evelyn Akoto, cabinet member for public health and community safety said: “I am incredibly proud that Southwark is leading by example when in comes to child Sexual Exploitation. The fact that we have so many more members of staff who can recognise the signs of CSE and other coercive behaviours adds another layer of protection for vulnerable children and young people.

“In many cases of CSE children are forced to keep quiet about what is happening to them so it is vital that the adults around them can recognise what to look out for.  Here at Southwark Council it doesn’t matter what your role is, we can all be part of the solution when it comes to CSE.”

If you work in the night time industries and would like to sign up to training with Barnardo’s please email cse@southwark.gov.uk for dates and other details for the training. Please mark your email ‘Barnardo’s training’.

There will also be a community market stall at The Blue Market, Southwark Park Road on Saturday 16 March where there will be information available on how to spot the signs of CSE.

Page last updated: 14 March 2019