There has been a sharp rise in Childline counselling on Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE).
- Childline bases in Northern Ireland held more than 150 counselling sessions about CSE last year
- Young people are worried about grooming and sexual exploitation.
Childline counselling sessions for children and teenagers worried about child sexual exploitation (CSE) have significantly jumped by a third in the last year.
Girls were more likely than boys to receive counselling about CSE with 12-15 year-olds most likely to receive help from Childline about this issue.
The majority of young people worried about this form of sexual abuse were being targeted via the internet.
Local volunteers at the NSPCC Childline bases in Belfast and Foyle delivered 154 counselling sessions to young people worried about CSE in 2016/17 – up from 80 in 2015/16.
Across the all of the 12 Childline bases in the UK, the NSPCC service delivered 3,122 counselling sessions to young people concerned about CSE in 2016/17 – an average of eight a day – and up from 2,340 in 2015/16.
The sharp rise highlights the importance of Childline as currently, counsellors can only respond to three out of four children who need their help.
CSE involves manipulating young people into sexual activity in exchange for gifts, money or affection and can include online and offline grooming, trafficking, sexual harassment and engaging in online sexually explicit activities or images.
In counselling sessions about being groomed, young people often didn’t recognise what was happening to them, instead believed they were in a relationship with someone they had met online. In some cases they had not met or even spoken to the individual, having no proof of who they really were.
One 12-15 year-old girl told Childline: “I was playing a game online and started talking to someone who asked me to send them rude pictures. They said they were my age and after talking for a while I sent them some pictures, but now they’re blackmailing me and threatening to show everyone if I don’t carry on. I feel really stupid and I’m scared about what will happen, what should I do?”
NSPCC CEO Peter Wanless said: “Whether child sexual exploitation is happening online or offline, groomers will use the same devious tactics to manipulate and control young people so they can abuse them for their own pleasure.
“It can be incredibly confusing and difficult for children and teenagers to realise that they are being exploited, with some believing they are in a relationship with their abuser. Our Childline counsellors hear about the guilt and shame that young people feel, so it’s vital that any young person in this situation knows they are not to blame.
“We want young people to know that Childline is there for them, whatever their worry, to answer any questions and offer support and advice.”
Parents: Protect your children online AND offline.
The Childline service provides a safe, confidential place for children with no one else to turn to, whatever their worry, whenever they need help.
Children can contact Childline 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on:
or by visiting: www.childline.org.uk