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Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

Could You Spot the Signs?

Child Sexual ExploitationAn important document has been published. It is a revised framework setting out how agencies across the West Midlands will work together to protect children from sexual exploitation (CSE).

The whole document is an essential read for anyone involved in working with children and can be found here.

But the onus is the whole of the Voluntary and community Sector to have a general awareness of the problem and be vigilant for tell tale signs. The new framework sets out this for the VCS:

Working Together to Safeguard Children 2015 recognises the important role that the voluntary/community sector and the private sector play delivering services to children and young people.

They should have the same arrangements in place as organisations in the public sector and need to work effectively with the LSCB. Paid and volunteer staff need to be aware of their responsibilities for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, how they should respond to child protection concerns and make a referral to Children’s Social Care or Police if necessary.

Many voluntary/community organisations are specialists in preventative work, assessment and therapeutic interventions and are well placed to reach the most vulnerable children, young people and families. It is important that they are an integral part of the local child protection system and have an equal seat around the table when it comes to both strategic and operational decision making.

However, it is also important to recognise the limited capacity that exists to attend meetings, etc and therefore ensuring that they are around the right tables and members of the right groups will maximise the contribution that they can make in a local area. It is important to include the specialist sector in information sharing, e.g. common priorities, sharing actions and objectives, agreeing individual and collective responses, regularly updating on progress and identifying and jointly responding to common challenges/issues. Across the region there are a range of organisations who offer a range of services that support victims or potential victims of CSE and their families.

Through local commissioning processes, the voluntary/community and private sectors will be required to work within the local child protection systems and use local policies and procedures to identify and respond to CSE and missing. However, there are a range of voluntary/community and private sector providers who are not directly commissioned who also deliver valuable services.

These need to be understood and recognised and equally worked alongside to ensure that they are all working towards the vision and ambition of the LSCB as well as working within the local policies and protocols.

For too many years this issue has been inadequately dealt with and the stories that have emerged in so many towns from Rochdale to Oxford have been harrowing and disturbing. Such abuse of vulnerable youngsters has to be stamped out.

We can all look to play a part. We should all be familiar with those signs.