Raising awareness of child exploitation

Published Monday, 16th March 2020

Children's Services in Hartlepool and Stockton have launched a campaign to raise awareness of child exploitation and how people can help to tackle it.

The Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees Safeguarding Children Partnership whose members include Hartlepool Borough Council, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, Cleveland Police and Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), aims to ensure that local children are protected from harm.

It has launched the campaign to coincide with National Child Exploitation Awareness Day on March 18th.

It plans to distribute information cards - including to taxi drivers - and put up posters, whilst also having an awareness-raising stand in Middleton Grange Shopping Centre on the day itself from 11am-1pm.

National Child Exploitation Awareness Day, an annual event, is organised by national charity NWG Network to educate people about child abuse in its various forms and to encourage them to report any concerns they might have.

Karen Douglas-Weir from Hartlepool Borough Council’s Children’s Services Department said: “The agreed vision of the Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees Safeguarding Children Partnership is to ensure that every child feels safe and secure and is protected from harm, enabling them to reach their full potential and access their community safely.

“Child abuse comes in many forms – physical, sexual, spiritual and emotional – and we are determined to do whatever we can to tackle it.

“By supporting the annual awareness day, we aim to engage with local people to increase their knowledge of child abuse and how they can report it.”

“The support of members of the public is vital in terms of recognising abuse that is occurring in the community and reporting it so that authorities can take appropriate action to deal with it.”

Sarah Pritchard, a trainer from Barnardo’s, added: “Child exploitation is when someone you trust makes you do something for their benefit. This can be in many forms – sexual, criminal and radicalisation – and the worrying thing is that children don’t recognise this is happening to them. That’s why they need the safety of adults around them to look closer and protect them.”

The first point of contact for anyone who has a concern about the welfare or safety of a child is The Children’s Hub, Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees - a partnership between Hartlepool Borough Council, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, Cleveland Police, Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Trust and Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust. It can be contacted by telephoning (01429) 284284/(01642) 130080 or emailing childrenshub@hartlepool.gov.uk

Child exploitation and abuse can also be reported to the police by calling 101 or, in an emergency 999.