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LSCB Message

IS YOUR CHILD AT RISK?

A message from the Bedford Borough Safeguarding Children Board

The sexual abuse of children and young people is less rare than we would all like to think. Recent high profile cases highlighted by the media are helping to raise awareness of this crime.

 

What is sexual abuse?

It’s a form of exploitation, where a child or young person is manipulated or forced into taking part in a sexual act. This could be part of a seemingly consensual relationship, or in return for attention, affection, money, drugs, alcohol or somewhere to stay. The child or young person may believe their abuser is their befriender, boyfriend or girlfriend or friend. The abuser may physically or verbally threaten the child or young person, be violent towards them and may try to isolate them from friends and family.

 

Signs to look out for

Children and young people now have access to 24/7 social network sites and mobile communications, making it harder for parents or carers to know what’s going on in their lives. However, it’s not the technology itself posing the risk to young people, it’s the wider access.

 

Here are a number of tell-tale signs that a child or young person may be being groomed for sexual exploitation. He/she may:

 

  • receive and respond to  phone calls or text messages at unusual times

 

  • display sudden changes in physical appearance

 

  • suffer mood swings or changes in emotional wellbeing

 

  • regularly miss school or not take part in education

 

  • associate with older men and/or develop a relationship of a sexual nature with a significantly older individual

 

  • appear with unexplained gifts or new possessions, money, mobile phones, clothes or jewellery

 

  • stay out at night, regularly returning home late. The child or young person is defensive about where they have been and what they have been doing

 

  • display inappropriate sexualised behaviour

 

  • display Increasingly risky behaviours in relation to alcohol or drugs

 

  • suffer from sexually transmitted infections

 

  • display marks or scars on their body which they try to conceal by refusing to undress or uncover parts of their body

 

Actions to take to help protect your child or young person

 

Barnado’s have identified some practical steps for parents and carers to take to protect children and young people from sexual exploitation:

 

· discuss with your children or young person the differences between caring and non-caring relationships, to help highlight potential risks to them

· stay alert to the tell-tale signs (see above)

· exercise caution around older friends your child or young person may have, or relationships with other young people where there appears to be a power imbalance

· make sure you understand the risks associated with your child or young person being online and put measures in place to minimise these risks

 

For further information or advice on sexual abuse through exploitation, visit:

http://www.barnados.org.uk/ / www.nspcc.org.uk / http://www.ceop.police.uk/ / www.justwhistle.org.uk

 

If you are worried about a child, young person or yourself, please contact:

  • Intake and Assessment team at Bedford Borough Council on 01234 223599
  • Social Care Emergency Duty Team – Open 5pm-9am Monday to Thursday, Weekends 4pm on Friday to 9am on Monday – on 0300 300 8123
  • Bedfordshire Police on 999 (emergency only) or 101 (non-emergency)
  • NSPCC ChildLine 0808 800 5000

 

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