On average, it takes a victim of child sexual abuse seven years to speak out, says the charity NWG Network; and Lincolnshire Police are joining a national campaign to put a spotlight on the signs.
The Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) awareness day, on Wednesday, March 18, aims to break down barriers for victims who feel they have no one they can turn to.
Superintendent Rick Hatton, Head of the Lincolnshire Police Public Protection Unit said: “The sexual exploitation of children is not only an issue for the police, it’s a potential threat to every child; so we all need to be aware of the signs.
“Everyone should also be prepared to act should they be presented with the signs. The average seven years that it takes a victim to disclose the abuse could be seven years of torment for that victim, and seven years where the offender continues to abuse them, and others.”
Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Hardwick added:
“Sadly, not a day goes by without reports of child sexual exploitation. There is no doubt in my mind that it is one of the greatest evils of society. Every effort should be made to stamp it out, and every reasonable person should play their part in doing just that.”
The campaign forms part of a two-day NWG annual conference in Nottingham, with guest speaker Lorin LaFave; the mother of schoolboy Breck Bednar who was murdered by a teenager he met online.
People are being asked to show their support by posting a photo on social media with a message on their hand pledging to listen to victims of abuse.
Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield said: “The exploitation of children for sex is a horrific crime which must be stopped and this is why I am a strong supporter of the National Awareness Day.
“Survivors and victims need to be provided with proper support to overcome their experiences; perpetrators need to be pursued and brought to justice; and professionals trained in identifying the signs.”
National Policing Lead for Child Protection, Chief Constable Simon Bailey added: “When a child finds the courage to tell somebody they are being abused, that person, whoever they may be, must listen, must believe them and must take appropriate action.
“It is unacceptable that any child who confides in someone could be ignored.”
Find out more about the signs of CSE on the Lincolnshire Safeguarding Children Board website.
Anyone affected by the issues highlighted can talk to professionals anonymously via freephone numbers:
Lincolnshire Children’s Services: 01522 782111
Out of Hours: 01522 782111
Childline: 0800 11 11
NSPCC: 0808 800 5000