National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day 2019
18th March will be the fifth CSE Awareness Day. The campaign is coordinated by NWG .
The landscape and context surrounding CSE has changed dramatically since 2014 when the first awareness day took place. The Jay Report had been published in the summer of 2013, creating a surge in public interest in child sexual exploitation, although not always a well-informed interest. Victims, their families and professionals who supported them were still battling with preconceptions that children were in some way responsible for their own abuse and largely came from dysfunctional families or local authority care. Sadly, whilst much has been done to challenge these stereotypes, they still negatively impact on victims today.
The government responded to public outrage over the experience of victims and the failure of some professionals to support children and produced its ‘Tackling CSE Action Plan in 2015’, with the issue being identified as a national threat. The NWG was awarded the CSE Response Unit contract to help support professionals as part of a raft of measures aimed at improving support for victims and their families, with CSE front and centre of government policy.
The CSE Response Unit has now been operational for nearly three years and has seen significant change in understanding and the context in which we respond to CSE. 2017 saw the publication of the government’s practice guidance for professionals tackling CSE, however this already feels dated.
As an organisation, like many others NWG now see CSE through the lens of a broader understanding of child exploitation, encompassing criminal exploitation, trafficking, modern slavery and other forms of adolescent vulnerability.
This doesn’t diminish the importance of CSE, it is critical we take the learning from the last five years and apply it where appropriate to other forms of exploitation. It is also vitally important that this move doesn’t leave the children and their families still affected by CSE feeling left behind by this approach. It is in fact an opportunity to look at their needs more holistically and harness the support and services of agencies and professionals not yet fully engaged in the response to CSE.
CSE Awareness Day 2019 will reflect these developments and draw attention to exploitation in a wider context, whilst not losing sight of children who are sexually exploited. We hope you will be able to support the day by sharing our key messages, developing your own and marking the day with events to help raise awareness with professionals and communities alike.
If you would like to tell NWG about your events please email [email protected]
NWG is encouraging organisations to support the campaign using social media by using #CSEDay19 and #HelpingHands