'Be the Difference' to a young person at risk

Date published: 16 March 2020

One person can have a significant impact in helping a young person who may be at risk, whether this is a peer, parent, carer or member of the local community.

This week sees the start of a campaign which is taking place across Greater Manchester to raise awareness of child exploitation, with local communities being encouraged to consider if they have the knowledge and confidence to ‘Be the Difference’.

The week of action looks to raise awareness of exploitation amongst young people to educate and inform them on the signs to look out for, how to report concerns and how they can support their peers.

The activity is also aimed at parents, carers, professionals and community members to help further understand child exploitation, and increase confidence and knowledge of how to support young people who may be at risk.

Wednesday March 18 is the National Child Exploitation (CSE) Awareness Day, so there will be a focus on CSE in line with this throughout the week.

Karen* found inappropriate messages on her 12-year-old daughters phone and is now helping raise awareness to protect other young people.

When Karen* told her daughter that she was going to the police, her daughter found it really hard to accept.

She said: “My daughter thought that she loved him, and she thought that he loved her.

"It was hard for her to understand that she had been groomed, that he was using her and he didn’t love her.

"That was really hard for her to deal with because of how he had reeled her in.”

When asked what advice she would give to other parents, she added: “I know it’s daunting, and I know it’s really scary and hard to accept that your child has gone through something like that, but you need to persevere and you need to stay strong for them.

“You need to just keep reminding them that it’s not their fault - that you love them no matter what, you are always going to be there for them and let them know how proud you are they are doing this because they can help to stop it from happening to someone else.”

Karen* was the difference for her daughter, and together they want to raise awareness of spotting the signs and reassure other people going through this by giving an insight into their experience to help protect other young people.

The week of action will begin with an emotive drama performance created by Essential Safeguarding and Safe Productions known as ‘Real Voices’.

The impactful performance explores the lives of four young people who have all been groomed and exploited, and the impact this has had on their lives.

The performance is followed by a workshop to help further understanding of exploitation and encourages young people to think about themselves, and also their peers who may need support.

There will be five performances over the week at multiple sites across Greater Manchester, targeting not only young people but foster carers, teachers and parents too.

Other activity across the week throughout Greater Manchester includes thought provoking performances from GW Theatre Company with Mr Shapeshifter.

This encourages learning around child sexual exploitation to inform and safeguard children against risk and danger in ‘real’ life and online, aimed at 9-11 year olds, and will take place at multiple schools across the region.

There will also be performances from Breaking Barriers which is a one person play known as ‘Crossing the Line’ which looks at child criminal exploitation from the perspective of a young person at schools across Greater Manchester, throughout the week of action and beyond.

Each of the districts across Greater Manchester have also organised activities to help raise awareness across local communities.

If you have concerns regarding child exploitation, contact the police directly on 101 or via LiveChat.

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, dial 999.

Alternatively call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

*Name changed to protect the identity of the individuals.

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