Uniting against child sexual exploitation

Child protection agencies across Bradford District are joining together to mark national child sexual exploitation (CSE) awareness day which takes place on Sunday 18 March.

Activities to mark the day will take place in Bradford on Friday 16 March and in Keighley on Monday 19 March. All events are free and everyone is welcome.

The events in Bradford on 16 March will run from 10am to 5pm in both City Park and in The Broadway Shopping Centre. They will be supported with special guest appearances by former rugby great Robbie Hunter-Paul along with players from Bradford Bulls and Bradford City Football Club.

In City Park there will be police horses, information on human trafficking and cyber safety as well as the HALE sexual health bus. The Lord Mayor of Bradford will also start a balloon release between 3.30 and 4.30pm. At 4.10pm City Hall, the fountains in City Park and Margaret McMillan Towers will be lit in green to support CSE awareness day.

In the Broadway Shopping Centre there will be face painting, a smoothie bike, a mini video workshop and a helping hands activity. A number of stalls will be available with information on CSE, child trafficking, missing children and drugs and alcohol misuse and how people can get help. Staff will be around to talk to members of the public and children of to raise awareness about CSE. The Lord Mayor of Bradford will cut a cake kindly donated by Sandy Docherty, previous contestant in the Great British Bake Off, between 3.30 and 4.30pm.

An awareness raising event will also take place in Keighley on 19 March at the Airedale Centre from 10am to 4pm and the Bus Station from 2pm to 4pm which will raise awareness about the signs of CSE and what to do with the information.

Young people's support charity Step 2 will be in the HALE bus, which will  parked on Hanover Street, Keighley on Monday 19 and will provide information around health and wellbeing, safer relationships and signs of CSE for any young person, parent or carer.

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 national day aims to highlight the issues surrounding CSE, encouraging everyone to think, spot and speak out against abuse. The day will also stress the need to adopt a zero tolerance to adults developing inappropriate relationships with children or children developing inappropriate relationships with other children.

Anyone can pledge their support for the day by taking in the part in the Helping Hands campaign. People can do this by writing a personal pledge on their hands and posting a photo of their pledge on social media with the hashtag #HelpingHands and #CSEDay18 to help raise awareness of CSE.

Detective Inspector Richard McNamara, of the Bradford District Safeguarding Unit, said: “Key public engagement and awareness events like these are very important as they are an excellent opportunity for police and partners to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation and the support services we can offer to victims in Bradford District.

“No single agency can tackle this crime alone and that is why it is vital that we continue to work in partnership to make sure that victims are identified at an early stage and protected from their abusers.

“There are a number of visible signs of child sexual exploitation and we would encourage everyone in Bradford District, particularly parents and carers, to visit our site on CSE advice at www.westyorkshire.police.uk/cse and to report any concerns to the Safeguarding Unit on 01274 376116 or email b.dsu@westyorkshire.pnn.police.uk."

Ian Ward, General Manager of The Broadway, said: “We are thrilled to be able to lend our support to a cause as worthwhile as National Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Awareness Day. The work that’s gone on across the city is nothing short of remarkable, and we hope to see lots of customers visit the Centre on Friday 16 March.”

Coun Val Slater, portfolio holder for health and wellbeing, said: “CSE is a terrible crime that no child should ever have to experience. Everyone in our community has a duty to help prevent it. CSE awareness day helps agencies work together to help people understand more about this crime, the forms it takes, what signs to look for, and what people can do about it. Don’t think ‘what if I’m wrong?’ Think ‘what if I’m right?”

If anyone suspects a child is being abused, they can call Bradford Council’s Initial Contact Point on 01274 437500 in confidence and speak to a trained advisor.

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