Stay Safe Online Message as Part of Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day

Published on: Friday, 18-March-2016

Merseyside Police is urging children and young people to stay safe online as part of an awareness campaign to mark Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness (CSE) Day today, Friday 18 March.

CSE is a form of sexual abuse that involves the manipulation and/or coercion of young people under the age of 18 into sexual activity.
The aim of the national awareness day is to encourage people to look for the signs of abuse and adopt a zero tolerance to inappropriate relationships involving children.

Merseyside Police is working alongside local authorities and partner agencies to promote awareness and a number of events including school assemblies, briefings and presentations are being held.
This year Merseyside Police has adopted the theme of online gaming – to warn children and young people of the dangers of being manipulated online by strangers and alert parents, teachers and guardians to the warning signs that children may be at risk.
Detective Superintendent Dave Brunskill from Merseyside Police’s Protecting Vulnerable People Unit said: "Online gaming is an increasingly popular pastime with children and young people, many of whom are given gaming devices as gifts at Christmas or for birthdays.
"But some people may not realise that games consoles such as Xbox and PlayStation are connected to the internet and can be used for communicating as well as playing games.
"The web offers a degree of anonymity to criminals intent on grooming young people, allowing them to pretend to be someone they are not and gain trust and build relationships with younger people in order to exploit them.
"These relationships may feel like genuine friendships for that child or teenager but they are clearly not.

"It is really important that we all become more aware of the possible risk of exploitation on social media sites and how to report suspicious activity to the police.
"Every one of us has to play our part in putting a stop to the sexual exploitation of children and we all need to know the signs to look for, including if they are regularly missing school, appearing with unexplained gifts, having mood swings or becoming secretive about their use of social media.

"I would also advise children and parents to avoid going onto more obscure sites to access games and for parents to be satisfied that they know who their children are engaging with.

"If you are a child, you may think it's cool to get involved with older people but they may ask you to perform sexual acts or take photos of yourself in return and you may be pressured to keep these things secret. If we all look out for these signs and report any suspicions, we can break the cycle."
Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy said: “National CSE Day is an important opportunity for us all to raise awareness of the damage that Child Sexual Exploitation causes and of the potential warning signs so that everyone, particularly young people themselves, know what to look out for and how to keep themselves safe.

“We know that young victims, despite often being very tech savvy, may not recognise that they are being exploited and the term CSE can mean nothing to them. That’s why events like this one today at The Studio are so important in helping to educate our young people so they can spot the tell-tale signs and learn how to protect themselves.”

Advice and guidance for children and advice to help them stay safe online is available at:
If you believe your child is a victim or at risk of child sexual exploitation online call Merseyside Police on 101. Alternatively contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. If the life of a child is in immediate danger or a crime is ongoing dial 999.