Drama students highlight dangers of child sexual exploitation
Drama students from South Craven school opened a special conference on Safeguarding at Airedale Hospital last week, with a performance on the theme of child sexual exploitation and trafficking.
The annual conference is part of Bradford Safeguarding week and brings together professionals including health staff, social care and police, with the aim of highlighting the levels of deception, coercion and control used in order to exploit children and adults.
The play was written by the Year 12 students and also demonstrated the behaviour of a perpetrator, showing how easily it can be for a perpetrator move around in circles of a normal life, presenting as a respected family man whilst also leading a secret life of engaging in exploiting vulnerable young people.
Debra Burgess, organiser of the event and clinical nurse specialist for safeguarding children at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, said:
“We are very grateful to South Craven for their remarkable and sensitive play which showed the damaging effects of child sexual exploitation on young people’s emotional, psychological and physical health.”
“The aim of our conference was to highlight the levels of deception, coercion and control used in order to exploit children and adults. The gathering and sharing of information between agencies can ensure we all play our part in safeguarding, preventing children and adults becoming victims and recognising the perpetrators.”
The play was followed by an overview of the latest government Prevent strategy which raises awareness of identifying vulnerable people including children who maybe being targeted by radicalisers into a life of terrorism.
Professionals also heard from Izac Spencer, a PSCO with Bradford District Cyber Team, on ‘Safeguarding in the Virtual World’ whose presentation focused on the dangers of the internet and mobile phones for children. “Many young children already have access to electronic devices, social media and the internet”, he said. “Children can be coerced by friends and strangers into taking and sending indecent images. The youngest child known to police was just 7 years old.”
Claire Smith, Detective inspector of CID for Bradford, spoke at the event. She says, “child sexual exploitation is the West Yorkshire police force’s priority. Bradford has the largest and busiest live teams, and we can put measures in place to gather intelligence and flag the perpetrators before any convictions. We encourage people to contact the police with any information, no matter how small, so that we can protect the children of Bradford and bring the perpetrators of the crime to justice.”
Noel McEvoy, lead safeguarding adults nurse at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, also delivered a presentation on UK modern day slavery and human trafficking. This raised health professionals’ awareness of this fastest growing crime.
If you are worried about a child’s welfare, please contact your local children’s social care service. If yourself or someone you know is being abused, please contact 101 and make a crime report. If you have information about a person who is trafficked, contact the Modern Slavery Helpline 08000 121 700. If there is an immediate risk of harm, dial 999.