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National Safeguarding Week

16 Nov 2018

Tenant news

National Safeguarding Week

This week we’ve been supporting National Safeguarding Week. On the final day we’re looking at online exploitation and abuse of young people.

Online exploitation and abuse of young people

Online abuse is any type of abuse that happens on the web, whether through social networks, playing online games or using mobile phones.

Online abuse may be part of abuse that is taking place in the real world for example bullying or grooming. Or it may be that the abuse only happens online for example persuading children to take part in sexual activity online.

Children can be at risk of online abuse from people they know, as well as from strangers.

Children can feel like there is no escape from online abuse – abusers can contact them at any time of the day or night, the abuse can come into safe places like their bedrooms, and images and videos can be stored and shared with other people.

Children and young people may experience Grooming, grooming includes:

  • Grooming is when someone builds an emotional connection with a child to gain their trust for the purposes of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation or trafficking.
  • Children and young people can be groomed online or face-to-face, by a stranger or by someone they know – for example a family member, friend or professional.
  • Groomers may be male or female. They could be any age.
  • Many children and young people don’t understand that they have been groomed or that what has happened

Children and young people may also experience Sexual abuse, Sexual exploitation or Emotional abuse. When sexual exploitation happens online, young people may be persuaded, or forced, to:

  • send or post sexually explicit images of themselves
  • take part in sexual activities via a webcam or smartphone
  • have sexual conversations by text or online
  • abusers may threaten to send images, video or copies of conversations to the young person’s friends and family unless they take part in other sexual activity
  • Images or videos may continue to be shared long after the sexual abuse has stopped.

If you have any concerns you can report them here.

Modern Slavery

Modern Slavery is a hidden, widespread, international crime. Criminals take advantage of vulnerable individuals by deceiving, forcing and pressuring them into a life of abuse, servitude and inhumane treatment. Poverty, limited opportunities in their home country, lack of education, unstable social and political conditions, economic imbalances and war are some of the main reasons that lead to the trafficking of victims into and through the UK.

Human Trafficking in the simplest terms, is the movement of a person from one place to another into conditions of exploitation, using deception, coercion, the abuse of power or the abuse of someone’s vulnerability. Despite being outlawed in the early 1800’s, this exploitation through slavery has continued and grown.

If you have any concerns you can report them here.

Criminal Exploitation of Children and Young People

The term “county lines‟ is becoming more widely recognised and used to describe situations where young people may be trafficked for the purpose of criminal exploitation such as drug dealing.

What is often less understood is the experiences a young person faces and the potential for them to be harmed through various forms of abuse and exploitation as a result.

Like other forms of abuse and exploitation, county lines exploitation:

  • can affect any child or young person (male or female) under the age of 18.
  • can affect any vulnerable adult over the age of 18 years;
  • can still be exploitation even if the activity appears consensual;
  • can involve force and violence or threats of violence;
  • can be carried out by individuals or groups, males or females, and young people or adults, where one has power over another

Signs to look out for:

  • Constantly going missing from school or home
  • Unexplained money, clothes, or mobile phones
  • Receiving a lot of texts or phone calls
  • Relationships with controlling individuals or groups
  • Leaving home or care without explanation
  • Unexplained injuries
  • Carrying weapons
  • Significant decline in school results or performance
  • Gang association or isolation from friends or social networks
  • Self-harm or significant changes in emotional well-being

Children and young people who are trafficked, exploited or coerced into committing crimes are victims in need of safeguarding and support.

If you have any concerns you can report them here.

Financial Exploitation

Financial Exploitation is a way of stealing goods and / or property from someone, or getting it off someone by fraud. It is an offense but not always prosecuted. Sometimes the issue is simple, for example a care worker stole money from an older person’s purse, but at other times it is harder to deal with. This is often because the perpetrator is a relative to someone, or because others think that it didn’t happen or that the elderly person is at fault.

Common problems include relatives trying to justify their actions on the basis of getting their inheritance in advance and the misuse of a power of attorney. Financial exploitation can occur because the older person can be considered an easy way of getting money, especially if they are dependent or confused.

What the signs of financial exploitation?

  • Signatures on checks that are not similar to the older person’s signature.
  • Quick changes to bank accounts, including sums deducted without explanation from a person who comes in with the older person.
  • Additional names added to an older person’s bank account.
  • Sudden changes to wills
  • The sudden appearance of relatives who are not related to an older person, who demand rights on his or her financial affairs.
  • A large number of unpaid bills, or due rent, when someone else is supposed to pay the bills.
  • An unusual anxiety by someone that too much money is spent on care for the older person.
  • Lack of things like appropriate TV or clothing that the person should be able to afford.
  • Money or valuable property such as artworks or jewellery disappearing without explanation.

Money is also a powerful way for someone to manage a partner or ex-partner. This may mean restricting the ability of someone to obtain other funds or resources. They can also have their finances taken off them by their partner or ex-partner.

This may include:

  • Having money taken away from them
  • No access to shared money
  • Being made to account for each expenditure
  • Being forced to give up work
  • Having loans or credit cards taken out in their name
  • Being forced to commit crimes to get money
  • Not being allowed to buy things necessary for themselves or their children, including enough food
  • The partner spending money needed to maintain the home on themselves

If you have any concerns you can report them here.


Sexual Exploitation

Sexual exploitation affects thousands of children and young people across the UK every year. In 2016, 14,000 young people went missing in Gwent and 15% of those were identified as having been sexually exploited or were vulnerable to sexual exploitation.

What is Child Sexual Exploitation?

Child sexual exploitation is a form of sexual abuse in which a young person is manipulated or forced into taking part in a sexual act involving an exchange of some form of payment- which can include money, mobile phones and other items, drugs, alcohol, a place to stay, ‘protection’ or affection.

This type of abuse happens to boys and girls from any background, ethnicity or culture.

Signs/ behaviours to be aware of:

  • appearing with unexplained gifts or new possessions
  • use of a mobile phone that causes concern
  • going missing for periods of time or regularly returning home late
  • regularly missing school or not taking part in education
  • associating with other young people known to be involved in exploitation/clipping (receiving payment in exchange for agreement to undertake but not perform sexual acts)
  • having older boyfriends or girlfriends
  • entering/ leaving vehicles driven by unknown adults
  • frequenting areas known for on/off street exploitation (sexual and criminal exploitation)
  • suffering from sexually transmitted infections; pregnancy/ termination of pregnancy
  • mood swings or changes in emotional wellbeing (e.g. Expressions of despair- self harm; overdose, eating disorder, aggression, challenging behaviour)
  • drug and alcohol misuse
  • physical injury without plausible explanation
  • displaying inappropriate sexualised behaviour

This isn’t a full list or a checklist but it might help you spot if a child or young person is being exploited.

What you should be aware of:

Child Sexual Exploitation happens much more than most people imagine but may often be hidden and can only be uncovered by people being vigilant and reporting their concerns.
Children and young people that are the victims of sexual exploitation often do not recognise that they are being exploited and rarely disclose the abuse.

Sometimes the child or young person may recognise for themselves that they are being exploited but still choose not to disclose, this could be for a number of reasons, this still does not mean that they can give their “consent” to what is happening to them.

Sexual exploitation in itself is complex, sometimes it is an organised crime involving numbers of people but it can also be occurring within one to one relationships within the community, the family network, and even between young people of a similar age themselves.

What can I do?

If a young person is in immediate danger, call the police on 999.

What else can I do?

  • stay alert to changes in behaviour or any physical signs of abuse
  • think about ways that you might be able to better support and help young people to share information if they are worried about their own or another young person’s situation

For more information:
South East Wales Safeguarding Children board (SEWSC) www.sewsc.org.uk/
Barnardo’s www.barnardos.org.uk/what_we_do/our_work/cse-home
Breaking the cycle www.breakingthecycle.org.uk