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18 March 2019, 06:00
Devon and Cornwall police say the most likely form of child sexual exploitation in the South West is carried out by other young people.
A national awareness campaign is taking place today (18th March 2019).
Our police say young people in Devon and Cornwall are more likely to be sexually exploited by other people their own age.
It's sometimes referred to as ‘peer on peer’ exploitation, and its victims are young males and young females.
Recent research led by Plymouth’s Safeguarding Children’s Board found little awareness and understanding among young people of peer on peer sexual exploitation.
Their research showed that this form of exploitation in particular was not widely recognised or understood as a crime, which is preventing children from reporting it.
They found that young people are also not reporting sexual exploitation because they worry that doing so would lose them friendships; they’re concerned about how their parents might react; or that they’ll be seen as wasting police time.
DCI Alison Lander says "If you are put in a situation where you feel pressured sexually, please report it.
It’s OK to tell someone."
Some may see themselves as willing participants in such abuse, not realising that what is happening to them is illegal."
Regional Head of Service for the NSPCC, Sharon Copsey, says "Having early conversations about healthy relationships and consent is vital to tackling child sexual exploitation before it starts."
We know that young people don’t always understand that what’s happening to them is abuse."
Schools across the South West and services that work with young people, are actively raising awareness of CSE among young people.
Parents and guardians are being encouraged to do the same at home.
To find out more about child sexual exploitation, and how to spot the signs, visit https://www.dcfp.org.uk/child-abuse/child-sexual-exploitation/
More information about Child Sexual Exploitation and NWG’s CSE Awareness Day, 18 March 2019, is available online.