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The week beginning 4th February 2019 is national sexual abuse and sexual violence awareness week. Bracknell Forest is supporting this with their safe guarding for children programme, as the focus of the #ITSNOTOKAY campaign this year is child sexual abuse and exploitation.
The website for itsnotokay gives a list of tell-tale signs which might indicate if a child is being groomed or exploited. The child, or young person, may not be aware that this is what is actually going on. For instance, mood swings, unexplained gifts including money, drug use, self-harming, truancy may indicate a problem. Of course, some of these are “normal” teenage behaviour, but a parent/carer/teacher may be aware that the behaviour of the young person has changed over time, in unexpected ways.
Bracknell Forest Local Safeguarding Children Board (BFLSCB) is an independent partnership, for local children. Like all safeguarding boards it is a multi-agency body which includes not only the local authority (social services) but the police, health services, probation services, local youth offending team and CAFCASS. There may also be representatives from other organisations such as Barnados or NSPCC.
What is safeguarding? It is everyone’s responsibility to protect children from maltreatment, to prevent impairment of children’s health or development and ensuring that children are growing up in circumstances consistence with the provision of safe & effective care.
What is child abuse? It applies to those under 18s and suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm. Under this heading are: neglect; Physical injury; emotional abuse; sexual abuse and domestic abuse.
What can you do if you are concerned that a child or young person is being subjected to any of the above? There are several different organisations you could contact. For instance; the local safe guarding team, the NSPCC, the police or the child exploitation and online protection centre (CEOP) or Stop it Now – which deals with online abuse and sexual abuse.
For a lot more information about child abuse and what you can do about it, have a look at the Citizens Advice article on Child Abuse.