Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Child protection guide published

A new report aims to raise awareness of child exploitation among young people
A new report aims to raise awareness of child exploitation among young people

Guidelines on how local authorities can protect children from sexual exploitation are being published.

A report, by children's charity Barnardo's and the Local Government Association (LGA), highlights ways that can help professionals and parents spot the warning signs that a child is being abused.

It highlights five key areas - raising awareness among young people, professionals, parents and carers; increasing understanding of what is happening; developing a strategic response; supporting victims of exploitation, whatever their needs; and improving policing and prosecutions.

Barnardo's says it is vital that children are taught what to look out for so they are aware of the threat and signs of sexual exploitation, know what to do if they are threatened and where to turn to for support.

Parents, carers and professionals should also be taught what to look for and what to do if they suspect children have been sexually exploited.

Michelle Lee Izu, Barnardo's director and head of child sexual exploitation, said: "Recognition of this horrific abuse is improving and more children have been identified - Barnardo's alone saw an 8.4% increase in referrals last year.

"However, these growing numbers only reinforce how important it is that local areas take action to protect and support children.

"Barnardo's joint report with the Local Government Association highlights what some areas are already doing, and shows how any area can create an effective response to this pernicious crime."

Councillor David Simmonds, chairman of the LGA's Children and Young People Board, said: "The exploitation of children for sexual or any other abuse has no place in society.

"Protecting children from harm is one of the most important things that councils do and we have a strong record of working with local partners such as the police, schools and health services to protect vulnerable children."

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