Conference tackles changing attitudes to child sexual exploitation

Des Mannion
Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) and some of the innovative programmes being set up to tackle it have been highlighted at a ground-breaking conference in North Wales.

The conference, organised by the NSPCC and North Wales' regional safeguarding board, featured contributors from social services, health, education, police, probation and the voluntary sector, explored current debates and issues concerning CSE research and practice, and was held in recognition of National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day.

Children's Commissioner for Wales Dr Sally Holland was the opening speaker at the event, highlighting the challenges faced by those who educate children about the dangers of sexual exploitation and the efforts being made to help protect them from harm.

The keynote speaker was Dr Helen Beckett, director of the International Centre at the University of Bedfordshire, who discussed safeguarding approaches and the impact of misperceptions which surround the subject.

Workshops were also held showcasing programmes currently being run by the NSPCC and Barnardo's to tackle child sexual exploitation.
This included a workshop on the NSPCC's Protect and Respect service, which offers specialist support and advice to children and young people who have been, or are deemed to be, at risk of sexual exploitation.

Workshops were also given about the Barnardo's Independent Child Trafficking Advocacy service, which supports children who have been trafficked, and the Gwella project, which supports children at risk of child sexual exploitation.

I hope that events like the one in North Wales will improve the level of understanding of CSE among everyone working in the sector as ideas and best practice are shared about how to work with children and young people to lower their risk of becoming victims of sexual exploitation and abuse.

The conference highlighted the extremely complex nature of the issue of CSE but it also demonstrated the commitment to tackle it and the strength of the partnerships that have been built - an essential element of effective child protection practice.

Des Mannion is head of service at NSPCC Cymru

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