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How councils are raising awareness of child sexual exploitation

Case study report

Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a terrible crime with destructive and far reaching consequences for victims, their families, and society. We recognise that it is not limited to any particular geography, ethnic or social background and despite being well hidden by perpetrators, evidence shows that it is more common than was widely thought. It involves young people being offered incentives (for example, food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, affection, gifts, money) to participate in sex acts. Perpetrators have power by virtue of their age, gender, intellect, physical strength and/or economic or other resources.

Protecting children from harm is one of the most important things councils do, but we can’t stamp out CSE without the help of the wider community. Raising awareness of this type of abuse is essential to preventing it and stopping it early when it does happen. It is an important part of an effective approach to tackling CSE, alongside using evidence and information to understand what is happening locally, developing a strategic response, supporting victims and facilitating policing and prosecutions.

I am therefore very pleased to be able to share with you this case study report, which shows how six councils from across the country are raising awareness of CSE in their local areas. They have spread the message not only within their council and across local partner agencies, but have gone beyond that to work with the wider community, including young people, parents, faith groups and local media. This is a sensitive and complex issue, but these examples show how it can be addressed.