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Heart Radio interview

Following a BBC news article about children being sexually harassed on public transport, Railway Children were approached by Heart Radio to talk about the risks that young people face on the rail network and how we're helping to keep them safe.

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On October 6, the national radio station interviewed our UK Programme Manager, Gaynor Little, who talked about how our relationship with British Transport Police (BTP) and the rail industry helps us to safeguard vulnerable children.

The BBC article, which was published earlier in the week, reported that children as young as 11 are being sexually harassed on public transport. One 16-year-old girl who was interviewed said that she often receives 'unwanted comments’ from men while travelling on buses and trains.

Gaynor said: "Railway Children work with BTP and the rail industry to raise awareness of young people at risk on public transport and provide training on how to look out for vulnerability and people who may need safeguarding. We have also been supporting various projects about Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) and the risks they face.

"Safeguarding is everyone's responsibility and if you witness inappropriate behaviour or have concerns about a vulnerable child, you can text BTP on 61016 or use the Guardian App."

Despite a new law being passed this year to make sexual harassment in public a criminal offence, the news article raises concerns about whether these incidents are being adequately reported.

Harrogate Youth Council, which is made up of young people aged 11 to 18, is campaigning for more children to report incidents of sexual harassment in North Yorkshire and to improve CCTV on buses, trains and in and around stations.

A spokesperson for BTP said that officers were working to create a ‘hostile environment’ for perpetrators and urged bystanders to ‘safely intervene’ if they see someone being targeted. 

Railway Children's Safeguarding on Transport programme in Yorkshire helps us to identify and engage with children and young people found at risk in and around transport hubs. Once a young person has been identified as being vulnerable and is referred to us, we assess their situation, establish their needs and put a bespoke support plan in place.

We also deliver training to BTP, rail staff, security firms and others working in and around stations to help them understand the experiences of young people and how to identify vulnerability and respond appropriately. 

Earlier in the year, Railway Children were invited to be part of a safeguarding hub in Hull Paragon Station in collaboration with TransPennine Express and BTP. The multi-agency service is providing a vital safety net for vulnerable and at-risk children using public transport in the region.