Residents Urged to Lend Helping Hand to Campaign to Stop Child Exploitation
People in South Tyneside are being encouraged to lend a hand to support a national campaign aimed at putting an end to child exploitation.
In the run up to National Child Exploitation Awareness Day, this Saturday (18 March), people are being encouraged to support the Helping Hands campaign by writing a message on their hands and posting it on social media with the message #HelpingHands, #EndCSEin23 and #CEADay23.
The National Child Exploitation Awareness Day aims to highlight the issues surrounding child exploitation. It seeks to encourage everyone to think, spot and speak out against abuse and adopt a zero tolerance to adults developing inappropriate relationships with children. Child exploitation is when an abuser takes advantage of a young person for their own personal gain. This can take many forms, including sexual exploitation or forcing the child to commit a crime. A form of criminal exploitation is County Lines where vulnerable children and adults are coerced into taking part in drug dealing activity. There is an expectation that this will increase as a result of the cost-of-living crisis which is increasing vulnerability of children and young people in our communities.
Councillor Adam Ellison, Lead Member for Children, Young People and Families, said: "It is important that we mark this day to raise awareness of child exploitation.
"This is not a crime that can be solved by the police alone. We need the public to be our eyes and ears and I would encourage everyone to think, spot and speak out against abuse."
To further raise awareness of the issue South Shields Town Hall will be bathed in a red light on Saturday night and people are asked to wear something red in support of the cause. There is also lots of further information available at https://nwgnetwork.org/
Anyone who feels a child is at risk of harm should contact Children and Families Social Care on 0191 424 5010 Monday to Thursday between 8.30am and 5pm and Friday 8.30am to 4.30pm. Outside of these hours people should call 0191 456 2093. Anyone who feels a child is in immediate danger should call the police on 999.