This week sees the start of the It's Not Okay Greater Manchester week of action on Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE).
The theme for this year's week of action is giving parents and carers information about keeping switched on to their children's online and offline activity.
To mark the week Rochdale's Sunrise Team will be taking part in a variety of events throughout the week to raise awareness of the signs of child sexual exploitation and grooming. They will be at:
- Wednesday, 20 June 2018, 1pm-3pm: Deeplish Sure Start Centre Parents Group
- Thursday, 21 June 2018, 2pm-3pm: Deeplish Primary School internet safety for parents session
- Friday, 22 June 2018, 11am-3pm: Wheatsheaf Shopping Centre, Rochdale
- Saturday, 23 June 2018, 9am-2pm: Heywood Big Games
The team also ran a play by Burnley Youth Theatre at Touchstones last week which focuses on the topic of
CSE to carers and their children to help reinforce the messages around online dangers and signs of grooming.
Councillor Kieran Heakin, cabinet member for children's services, said: "I encourage all parents to get involved in the week of action, you could learn something so vital in protecting your child from grooming and
CSE and educating people on the signs is everybody's responsibility and dedicated weeks like this are good at raising the profile of the topic and making people more aware of the dangers."
The Sunrise Team is Rochdale's dedicated multi-agency team working to tackle and prevent
CSE. The is made up of professionals from the children's social care, police, health, Early Break and Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation (PACE). They provide a safe and confidential environment where young people can go for help, advice and support. Children are offered a range of therapeutic interventions including one-to-one counselling, group work sessions and drop-in support.
The team also works with schools and health providers to deliver preventative education programmes and provide specialist training to professionals so they know what signs to look out for.
Keep Switched On
As part of the week of action, a mother of a young boy from Tameside, who was sexually abused after being groomed on his games console, has spoken out as part of the 'Keep Switched On' campaign.
The initiative has been launched by the 'It's Not Okay' partnership to raise awareness of the risks of online grooming.
The mother, who is remaining anonymous to protect the identify of her son, is urging parents and carers to be vigilant of their children's safety at all times, even when they are deemed to be 'safe' in their bedrooms.
She said: "I would urge parents not to dismiss any radical changes in behaviour - you know your children, you must trust your instincts. Keep conversations about what they are doing, and who they are seeing, ongoing. Use all the security and parental settings available for phones, games and social media platforms. Don't feel you are being too intrusive in their privacy – it is more important to protect them."
Parents and carers are advised to regularly review security settings on their children's phones and devices, talk to their child about what they're doing online and to encourage them to ask for help if they have any concerns.
Greater Manchester's Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Beverley Hughes, said: "Child sexual exploitation takes many forms, but one of the major threats we're currently facing is in cyber-space. At the press of the button a predator can contact a child and pretend to be someone they're not – often another child – and start the grooming process that leads to exploitation and abuse. It's all too easy.
"Preventing online child sexual exploitation continues to be a key priority for me and all partners across Greater Manchester, and we are working hard to ensure the right messages around safety are communicated."