IMPORTANT UPDATE: COVID-19

Today is stop child sexual exploitation awareness day- #saysomething. Here at Ramsdens we continue to raise awareness following our conference in October 2018. We recognise the devastation that abuse causes amongst families and continue working with agencies to protect and highlight the needs and vulnerabilities of young people.

Child sexual exploitation is a form of child sexual abuse and it is a crime. When a child is sexually exploited they are given things like gifts, money, drugs and affection in exchange for performing sexual activities. Victims are usually tricked into believing they are in a loving relationship with their abuser and this is called grooming.

Children can be sexually exploited in different ways and with the use of the internet and social media, exploitation is also occurring online. Some of the signs that a child is being sexually exploited include:

  • Change in physical appearance, more/less makeup, new clothes, weight loss/gain
  • Increasingly on social media/internet and possibly use of a webcam/other photo/video facility
  • Increased time spent on gaming consoles
  • Associating/developing a sexual relationship with older adults
  • Becoming disruptive at home or school.

An estimated 3.1 million adults aged 18 to 74 years were victims of sexual abuse before the age of 16 years; this includes abuse by both adult and child perpetrators.

Experiencing sexual abuse in childhood can have a devastating long term consequences that can impact every part of their life and future into adulthood. Survivors of sexual abuse are 3 times more likely to develop psychological disorders in adulthood. Survivors may also struggle to have healthy adult relationships, experience unemployment or turn to drugs/alcohol to cope.

Childline is a service providing children/young people a confidential forum to talk, be listened to and get support. In their Annual Review 2018/2019, they provided 19,800 counselling sessions where a child/young person’s main concern was abuse- 4,500 counselling sessions were about child sexual exploitation.

All children and young people under the age of 18 have a right to be safe and should be protected from harm. The Local Authority have a duty to safeguard children vulnerable to such sexual exploitation. A child suffering from sexual exploitation is unlikely to speak out, as they have been manipulated into believing the sexual exploitation is consensual. If you are concerned that a child may be at risk, then give them a voice and contact the Local Authority or Police. Stope CSE and #saysomething.

Unfortunately, there are cases where public bodies have assumed responsibility for a child but have failed to adequately protect them from both physical and sexual abuse. Natalie Marrison heads our experienced Abuse team, who represent vulnerable children on behalf of their litigation friends in human rights claims and claims against local authorities who have breached their duty of care towards that child. Where a public body may not have been involved or assumed a responsibility to a child, we can represent child victims of physical and sexual abuse through applications to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) on the basis that this is reported to the police.

If you are or know someone who is a victim of sexual abuse, our experienced Abuse and Care teams understand the psychological impact this may have. We are able to advise you of what compensation you are entitled to in a patient and empathetic manner, understanding the individual needs of each client. For a confidential phone call please call 01924 431 774, or send an email to care@ramsdens.co.uk. We are here to help.