NHS Borders backs TV bid to keep youngsters safe

The child's phone that is used to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation in the current TV ad campaign
The child's phone that is used to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation in the current TV ad campaign

NHS Borders is supporting the first TV campaign in the UK to tackle child sexual exploitation.

Parents in the Borders have the same attitude to 93 per cent of parents - they have heard of child sexual exploitation but know little about and believe it doesn’t affect their family.

Dawn Moss, vulnerable children and young people nurse consultant for NHS Borders said: “Child sexual exploitation is a complex form of abuse in which victims are manipulated, pressurised or forced into taking part in a sexual act in exchange for receiving something - this may include gifts, money, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, or simply affection.

“It’s often a hidden crime where the child may not understand that they are a victim and so may not come forward to ask for help.

“This research shows that most parents don’t know a lot about the ways in which child sexual exploitation can take place and don’t believe that their family is at risk.

“The reality is child sexual exploitation takes many different forms, both online and offline, and can affect any young person regardless of their gender or background.

“Parents and carers play an important role in helping to keep young people in Scotland safe and should make sure they are familiar with the signs of abuse that could indicate a child is at risk of abuse or already being affected.

“NHS Borders welcomes and supports this important awareness raising campaign from the Scottish Government and would urge anyone who has questions or concerns about CSE to visit the website www.csethesigns.scot where advice and support is available.”

In 2014/15 ChildLine in Scotland provided 635 counselling sessions to children and young people worried about child sexual exploitation, with the NSPCC responding to 62 inquiries from adults in Scotland in the same period.

Yet experts feel these figures may be the tip of the iceberg.

The new TV advert highlights how to spot the warning signs of this form of abuse and shows how conversations online can potentially lead to a young person placing themselves in danger.

The TV advert runs alongside outdoor advertising, partnership work with local authorities, PR and social media. The campaign is aimed at parents and young people aged 11-17, with the message child sexual exploitation can happen to any young person, regardless of their gender or background.

A range of partners are supporting the campaign, including Barnardo’s Scotland, NSPCC Scotland, ChildLine, Police Scotland and Children 1st.