You & Co raises awareness of child sexual exploitation (CSE)
18 March 2016
Today, 18 March, You & Co is supporting CSE Awareness Day 2016. This is a day dedicated to spreading the word about child sexual exploitation (CSE) and helping people to recognise the signs that a young person might be suffering this type of abuse.
Our You & Co workers do brilliant work in schools helping students and teachers to understand what CSE is and how to keep young people safe from it. Amanda and Charan tell us about what they’ve been doing:
As part of the You & Co schools programme we help to make pupils aware of CSE in regular sessions through each school year. Starting in primary school, we teach children key safety skills to enable them to make safe choices and be aware of when other people are behaving in an inappropriate and unsafe way.
We help children to identify their early warning signs so they can tell us when things are not right, and we encourage children to think about who they can go to for help. We also let children know how we can work with their trusted adults to ensure that they are safe and protected.
We reinforce these messages regularly throughout primary school sessions, so that children absorb them properly and remember them. We also train teachers and help parents to intervene when they notice children exhibiting risk indicators.
In our secondary schools programme we cover CSE in a number of ways, using frank discussions, case studies and realistic scenarios. We help students to develop skills to navigate risky situations, including confidence building, safety planning and coping strategies.
We have co-created the programme and piloted our approach with the students, parents and teachers at a core number of schools. We are excited that it will roll out across the country in September 2016 to ensure every school has access to this intensive programme.
I worked with an all-girls school in North London to deliver a session on sexting (sending and receiving sexually explicit messages and/or images) to each year group across a week. The session covered many different topics, including what contributes to sexting, the production and distribution of sexting, and the support available to people who find themselves in difficult, exploitative and threatening situations in relation to sexting.
The students engaged really well and debated many interesting topics between themselves, such as consent, healthy relationships and the fact that the legal age for sexting is 18 and the legal age of sexual intercourse is 16. They also spoke about the differences between casual "swimsuit/bikini" pictures and provocative pictures. Students were proactive and independent when expressing opinions and asking questions.
After the sessions we held a one-to-one drop-in that was attended by a number of young people, who received further support and information. We had a really positive response from those involved, and we have set up a regular drop-in at the school every Thursday lunchtime.