Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day

  • Date: 18/03/2016
  • In: UK

Today Railway Children pledges its support for Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day.  As a member of the NWG Network, we are committed to raising awareness of child sexual exploitation - and to fighting it - today and every day.

Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a form of sexual abuse that involves a young person under the age of 18 being manipulated or coerced into sexual activity.

Young runaways at risk

We know that the young runaways we support in the UK are particularly vulnerable to CSE. 95% of children at risk of child sexual exploitation have gone missing at least once (according to Greater Manchester’s It’s Not Okay campaign).

Jane Thompson, UK Research and Policy Manager at Railway Children, explains why children who run away are at increased risk of CSE: “Young people may run from abusive or chaotic homes and be exploited by people they meet on the streets.  They may also run to someone they think they are in a relationship with, who has been grooming them, or to a group or gang.”

Hidden from view

“Most young people who run away don’t want to sleep rough if they can possibly avoid it,” continues Jane Thompson, “so they’ll often accept the offer of a bed from someone they’ve only just met. One young woman told us that from the age of 14 she’d just go onto Facebook and ask: ‘Anybody round this area got a house I can crash at?’ When young people are hidden from view, sleeping in the homes of people they really don’t know, they’re at terrible risk of abuse.

We're fighting to reduce the risks

“At Railway Children we’re using a combination of one-to-one support work, family work and awareness raising - both for young people themselves and for the adults who may be able to help them - to stop young people from running away and to ensure that those who do go missing are safer, better supported and at less risk of child sexual exploitation.”