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Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a serious issue with thousands of reported cases in 2015. These numbers are rising steeply but Barnardo's children's charity is trying to address the problem. They are using a program that is "research-led and based on the Barnardo’s 4-A’s model – Attention, Advocacy, Assertive outreach, Access". All their staff are "trained to adopt a neuro-sequential approach using an understanding of a teenage brain development to inform their interventions". Using the biologically and psychologically-based model Barnardo's created the R-U-Safe program which provides:

  • Direct, one-to-one support to young people at risk of CSE
  • Counselling for open clients
  • Informal, independent follow-up to Police Safe and Well Checks - ‘Return Interviews’
  • Targeted prevention work within schools across the country
  • Raising awareness for professionals and young people

As part of this programme, a number of CSE prevention workers gave speeches explaining what CSE is, as well as how to see it coming and stop it. On the 8th November, Bev Thompson, a CSE prevention worker, came to DCGS to give a speech to Year 7s regarding the issue; she returned on the 15th to talk to Year 11 as well. Ms Thompson had a well laid-out PowerPoint Presentation which explained what CSE is, as well as what a groomer is. We were told to look out for anyone that asked us to keep a relationship secret and told us not to meet someone that you had only met online previously.

We were also told about some factors that could indicate that someone else is at risk:

  • Disclosures of older boyfriends/girlfriends
  • Association with other young people known to be at risk of CSE
  • Gang affiliation
  • Receiving gifts, drugs and money from unknown or known sources
  • Going missing and truanting
  • Coercive relationships

Ms Thompson also showed some videos of acted examples of what a groomer would look like. A groomer is somebody who wants to exploit children sexually and spends time with them, gives them gifts like money, accommodation or desirable things, like a new phone. This activity will continue until the groomer has the trust of the child.

In conclusion, this growing issue is being tackled head on by the school, in partnership with Barnardo’s. If you feel like you are being exploited or are worried about someone else being explioted, there are several things that you can do, including calling Childline on 0800 1111. It is a safe number to call and get something off your chest. If you are worried about someone else you can also call the NSPCC’s dedicated hotline on 0808 800 5000 or send a text to 88858. Don’t let the bad guys get you - or anyone else!