Posted: Thu 27th Oct 2022

Spike in number of child sexual exploitation in Wales as new NSPCC campaign launched

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Oct 27th, 2022

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New analysis by the NSPCC of police recorded crime data reveals the number of crimes with an element of child sexual exploitation has increased by 70 per cent in Wales within the last year. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

During 2021/22 there were 752 crimes logged by the four police forces in Wales where children had been sexually exploited. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

This is an increase from 440 crimes the previous year. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

During 2021/22 in England and Wales there were a total of 17,486 crimes logged by police where children had been sexually exploited– an average of 48 offences a day. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

This is an increase of 10 per cent on the previous year. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The charity is revealing this data as its Childline service launches ‘The Full Story’campaign in a bid to encourage more children and teenagers at risk of, or suffering sexual exploitation to use Childline for immediate, confidential help. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Over the last year, Childline has heard from thousands of young people about sexual exploitation with some being manipulated into performing sexual activities after being given money, drugs or love and affection. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Whilst others have been sexually exploited after being trafficked from their home after being threatened with violence or the promise of a better life elsewhere. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The number of Childline counselling sessions on sexual exploitation and abuse across the UK has increased from 5,962 to 6,230 this year (April 2021 – March 2022). ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

A 15-year-old girl from Wales told Childline: “I’ve been having a sexual relationship with my mum’s ex-boyfriend. We were also sexual with each other when he used to live with us. I know that I was very young, and I didn’t really know what I was doing. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“Sometimes I think it was abuse, but sometimes I don’t. He is pretty much my boyfriend. I have really confusing feelings about him as he’s the only one who’s made me feel wanted.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

As well as helping children and young people gain an understanding of what sexual exploitation is and what a healthy relationship looks like, Childline is focussed on getting more young people to connect with them so they can offer immediate help and confidential support. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

This week, the service has unveiled posters at bus stops, motorway service stations, cinemas, colleges, Pupil Referral Units, youth centres, youth hostels, children’s homes, GP’s, and sexual health clinics. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Although more children are reaching out for support on this issue, Childline’s counsellors know from what they hear from children and young people there are many barriers and reasons which prevent some children from speaking out and getting help. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

For some children, they may be being exploited by a family member or someone in a position of authority, other cases it may be a girlfriend or boyfriend. The grooming methods used can be subtle, so often they don’t recognise anything is wrong or that they’re in danger. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Whilst others might blame themselves for what they are experiencing, some are being blackmailed or threatened by their abuser causing them to remain silent due to fear. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The campaign name, The Full Story, alludes to mixed and often conflicting feelings a child who is being sexually exploited may experience. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Darren Worth, Service Head of Childline said: “Sexual exploitation is a complex crime and often when children describe what is happening in their relationship, they don’t realise they are being groomed and abused. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“Our counsellors have heard from children who have said they didn’t realise what they experienced in a relationship or friendship was wrong until they were much older, and some said at the time they thought their abuser was someone they could trust. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“Others said they thought they were to blame for what had happened and were scared about what would happen if they did speak out. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“This is why this campaign is so important as it’s essential that all children and young people have an awareness of this issue and know that no matter what the circumstances are, that sexual exploitation is never a child’s fault and there are people like Childline who can help.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The charity’s Chief believes everyone has a role to play in protecting children from sexual exploitation. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Sir Peter Wanless, NSPCC CEO said: “Child sexual exploitation casts a dark shadow across our society, inflicting fear and pain on a rising number of children and young people. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“Greater public and professional awareness of this problem is vital, along with places like Childline which offers free and confidential help to those that are struggling, suffering or are confused at what is being done to them. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“Government must also provide high-quality sex and relationships education to all children and young people, giving them a better understanding of what is and is not a healthy relationship. At the same time our political leaders must make child safety a key priority and commit to fundamental reform of the wider child protection system.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

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