As a report from Ann Coffey MP concludes that Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) has become "a new social norm in some neighbourhoods of Greater Manchester", BASW has praised the report for seeking the views of young people.
Commenting on the Real Voices report, BASW professional officer Nushra Mansuri said:
“We commend Ann Coffey for this timely report and applaud her commitment to highlighting these harmful issues affecting our young people.
“There is understandable public outrage following high profile grooming convictions such as Rochdale and Rotherham but after the media cameras have left town, does anything really change? Ann Coffey is doing sterling work ensuring that the momentum for change is not lost in Greater Manchester.
“It cannot be right that young girls are having to fend off unwelcome approaches from abusers when they are dressed in their school uniform as part of their daily lives.
“Ms. Coffey mentions society’s increased sexualisation of children in the report which is an important factor in all of this.
“There are many rites of passage on the journey from child to adulthood but being sexually exploited should not be one of them.
“Fear of being blamed and judged is a consistent thread in this report. This says something of the culture we are perpetuating for our children.
“We must start from the position of abusers’ behaviour being the focus rather than that of the young people being abused, and impose meaningful sanctions on these predators.
“We need to reassess our attitudes towards young people and recognise how vulnerable they really are. We need to teach young people to value themselves.
“We also need to question the culture that inculcates these so called ‘norms’ in exploitative relationships. Coercion and control have no place in adult relationships let alone teenage ones; it is extremely worrying that some young people feel pressurised to accept abusive behaviour such as demanding to provide photographic evidence of where they are at every moment of the day as normal.
“This report is clearly more than a paperwork exercise and is very much action-based and informed by the direct experiences of young people.
“This approach should be the model of all reports dealing with children and young people rather than paying lip service to putting them at the centre.
“Using intelligence from young people themselves means that any recommendations made, if implemented, are more likely to work.
“We share Ann Coffey’s disappointment at the slow pace of change in this area and support her argument that it is not just the responsibility of the various agencies (education, police, health, social services) but that of the wider community.
“Greater Manchester Safeguarding Partnership’s ‘Project Phoenix’ is an example of good practice. They are clear that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach for every service but co-location and a good mix of staff knowledge and expertise is critical.”
“However, what is really concerning is the £1.3 billion funding shortfall for public services in Manchester referenced in the report foreward and how this could seriously jeopardise all the good work that is going on to try and address such serious and widespread problems.”
The full report can be downloaded here: Real Voices Full Report