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20 September 2018
Boys and young men can be the victims of child sexual exploitation (CSE).
This is the message that local sports personalities and role models in Bedfordshire are helping to push out over the next few weeks, as part of a new social media awareness campaign.
Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group in partnership with Bedfordshire Police, Bedford Borough Council, Central Bedfordshire Council, Luton Borough Council and Luton Clinical Commissioning Group, are joining forces to tackle CSE in the new #ItHappensToBoysToo campaign which launched on 17 September 2018.
CSE is a type of child abuse in which children are sexually exploited for money, power or status. It sees children and young people under 18 involved in exploitative situations, contexts or inappropriate relationships where the young person receives ‘something’, such as accommodation, drugs, alcohol, gifts or even affection, as a result of them performing, or being involved in, sexual activities.
The aim of the #ItHappensToBoysToo campaign is to continue to raise awareness of CSE, but to highlight that boys and young men can also find themselves as victims of this type of abuse. It also aims to increase the number of cases that are reported, as it is thought that boys often find it more difficult than girls to disclose what is happening to them.
The social media campaign features chief executives, cricketers, police officers, fire fighters and paramedics, as well as sports personalities, including Olympians Kriss Akabusi and Etienne Stott who are getting behind the campaign and helping to raise awareness.
Detective Superintendent Nick Bellingham said: “Children at risk of CSE are not exclusive to one gender; it happens to boys too. Any child can be exploited. Protecting vulnerable children is everyone’s business, and we all need to be alert, to know what to look out for and where to go for advice, as well as having the confidence to report any acts of abuse safe in the knowledge that they will be acted on.
“Partnership working is key to fighting this important issue so I’m pleased that Bedfordshire is uniting in this campaign to help put an end to the suffering of these children who are being exploited.”
Luton Council’s Director of People, Amanda Lewis, said: “Across Bedfordshire we are committed to working together in tackling CSE and safeguarding children. We want to raise awareness and provide children with the confidence to be able to report their concerns, knowing that they will be acted upon.”
Cllr Shan Hunt Portfolio Holder for Children’s Social Care at Bedford Borough Council, said: “We know that male victims are reluctant to discuss difficult issues and therefore less likely to report their abuse. It’s important we recognise the signs of CSE and ensure that male victims are not overlooked.”
Sue Harrison, Central Bedfordshire’s Council’s Director of Children’s Services, said: “We understand the difficulty in speaking out about CSE, especially for boys and young men and with the #ItHappensToBoysToo campaign, we want to reach out to anyone who may be a victim to let them know there is support available.”
You can follow us on Twitter and Facebook or visit http://www.bedfordshireagainstcse.org/ to find out more about CSE.