Police show support for child sexual exploitation awareness day
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'Think, spot and speak out against abuse' - that is the key message of a national awareness day designed to spread the word about the dangers of child sexual exploitation.
National Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Awareness Day takes places tomorrow and Suffolk Constabulary are supporting the campaign which aims to encourage everyone, from members of the public to professionals, to speak out and adopt a zero tolerance approach.
Child sexual exploitation is defined as sexual abuse involving children under the age of 18 being coerced or manipulated into sexual activity with adults or older children.
Offenders target vulnerable children and use emotional, financial or physical power over the child to sexually abuse them. Violence and intimidation are often part of the picture, while children are sometimes given gifts, money, alcohol or drugs in exchange for sexual activity with the abuser.
On behalf of the Protecting Vulnerable People Directorate, Detective Superintendent Eamonn Bridger said: 'Like nearly every police force in the country, we have seen the number of reports of both child abuse and sexual exploitation increase significantly over the last five or so years.
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'These reports are of recent allegations but also of those that occurred many years ago.'
'It doesn't matter when the abuse or exploitation took place - the important thing is to take that really big first step and to tell someone. I would encourage those who have been abused and exploited to come to us, but I do know that this can be very hard.'
'It is really important for all of us to know what the possible signs are that a child is being abused or exploited. Have a look at our website for some easy-to-access guides that assist with what to look for.'
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To raise awareness of CSE and human trafficking, Suffolk Police and the local safeguarding children board will be working with hotel staff - who may witness relevant suspicious behaviour - to encourage greater understanding.
In addition, the NWG charity is also getting behind the awareness day and is committed to supporting victims of child sexual exploitation and their families.
Suffolk Police will also be taking to social media to bring home the message, using the hashtags #HelpingHands and #CESDay18.