NAHT CYMRU has welcomed the publication of key messages for education professionals from the Centre of Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse
The ‘Key messages from research on child sexual exploitation: Professionals in school settings’ paper aims to increase school professionals’ confidence to take appropriate action based on the best current research evidence. The paper looks at understanding child sexual abuse and offers best practice in supporting young people affected.
The Centre of Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse is also embarking on a long-term project to look at the scale and nature of child sexual exploitation in England and Wales. It has produced an initial scoping document that assesses the current knowledge of CSE and outlines the breadth of the work it hopes to undertake.
The Centre of Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse is funded by the Home Office, led by Barnardo’s, and works closely with key partners from academic institutions, local authorities, health, education, police, and the voluntary sector. It works on identifying, generating and sharing high-quality evidence of what works to prevent and tackle Child Sexual Abuse (including Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE), and to inform both policy and practice .
WHAT IS CSE?
‘ Child sexual exploitation is a form of child sexual abuse where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into sexual activity (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or (b) for the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator ‘ . (New England definition 2017).
There is no one way that CSE is perpetrated. Grooming is common in some forms of CSE, but it is not always present. Online and offline exploitation can overlap. That children and young people may appear to co-operate cannot be taken as consent: they are legally minors and subject to many forms of coercion and control. These abuses of power are similar to those which are recognised in domestic violence and they may lead to children and young people being unable to recognise what is happening to them as abuse.
Whilst all of the research evidence to date shows that girls and young women are the majority of victims, boys and young men are also exploited. The average age at which concerns are first identified is at 12 to 15 years, although recent studies show increasing rates of referrals for 8 to 11 – year – olds, particularly in relation to online exploitation. Less is known about the exploitation of those from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT ) communities.
There is no ‘typical’ victim. That said, some young people may be more vulnerable than others, and a range of indicators have been highlighted to which professionals should be alert.
These include: prior abuse in the family; deprivation; homelessness; misuse of substances; disability; being in care; running away/going missing; gang-association. It is not known whether these also apply to young people where exploitation begins or wholly occurs online, although some factors appear to be involved in both contexts. It is important to remember that indicators are not evidence that sexual exploitation has taken place. All they suggest is that practitioners need to use their professional curiosity and judgement to explore what is going on with each young person.
Child sexual exploitation can happen to young people from all backgrounds. Whilst young women are the majority of victims, boys and young men are also exploited.
A ‘ WHOLE SCHOOL ’ APPROACH
Creating an educational environment in which there is a ‘whole-school’ approach to addressing gender inequality, sexual consent, and relationships built on respect is crucial in responding to violence and abuse, including CSE. The curriculum, school policies, pastoral support and school ethos all contribute to environments that enable or challenge exploitative practices and the attitudes that condone them.
PREVENTING CSE THROUGH THE CURRICULUM
Work to prevent CSE should be taking place in independent and maintained schools, as well as state-funded schools, free schools and academies (where appropriate) and alternative educational settings, including Pupil Referral Units, Short Stay Schools, colleges and post- 16 training, including from independent providers.
Schools are ideally placed to deliver information to students about CSE and a number of resources exist for them to use in doing so. It is important that this work also challenges attitudes and helps students to develop emotional and social skills. Opportunities to learn about sexual exploitation should be available in age appropriate forms in both primary and secondary schools. Open conversations inside and outside the classroom can help children recognise potentially abusive behaviours, identify trusted adults who they can talk to and offer information about support services.
Some young people may be more vulnerable – those who have experienced prior abuse, are homeless, are misusing alcohol and drugs, have a disability, are in care, are out of education, have run away/ gone missing from home or care, or are gang-associated.
All schools (including alternative educational settings such as Pupil Referral Units and Short Stay Schools, colleges and post-16 training) should assume that CSE is an issue that needs to be addressed.
An educational environment where there is a ‘whole-school’ approach to addressing gender inequality, sexual consent, and relationships built on respect should be developed.
All schools are ideally placed to deliver information to students about CSE through preventative education that delivers knowledge and challenges attitudes.
Staff within the school community should be trained to spot potential ‘warning signs’ of CSE and to feel confident to begin conversations based on their concerns.
Multi-agency links mean that schools can be part of developing a protective community network which holds perpetrators to account.
A SAFE AND SECURE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
A prevention curriculum should be combined with a safe and secure school environment which promotes positive and respectful relationships between peers, between students and staff, and includes wider parent/carer engagement.
Whilst the school environment can represent a positive space for young people, it may also be a context within which they experience sexual exploitation. Sexual exploitation can also involve peers in complex ways, as facilitators, abusers or bystanders. Grooming and sexual exploitation may take place during the school day, including by gang-associated peers. Some students may introduce other young people to exploiters. Social media may facilitate the spreading of gossip and images around peer groups so that the impact of CSE taking place outside of school may ‘migrate’ back into it.
Every school community should assume that CSE is an issue. In addition to educating young people about CSE, schools need to identify and support young people who are affected. Links should be made with relevant school policies, including those on bullying, sexual violence and harassment and equalities. Young people may not think of themselves as victims and may believe that they are in love. A proactive approach should therefore be taken to identifying victims, distinguishing between disruptive behaviour and early warning signs of exploitation.
Ceredigion pupils receive Holocaust survivor experiences
To mark Holocaust Memorial Day, Ceredigion pupils had the opportunity to hear the story of a Holocaust survivor.
On 27 January 2020, it was the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. Dr Martin Stern MBE was five years old when he was arrested at his school.
His journey was a difficult one being close to death on a few occasions. Dr Stern moved to Britain in 1950 and became a Doctor. These days, Dr Stern is educating young people about what happened. On 29 January 2020, he came to Aberaeron to talk to a hall full of Ceredigion’s young people.
Meinir Ebbsworth, Corporate Lead Officer for Schools said, “75 years ago, the world saw images of people coming out of the camps and coming to terms with what had happened. We are so grateful to Dr Martin Stern for coming to Ceredigion to share his story and experiences. It is not easy to talk about a very dark time in the world’s history. I hope our pupils have considered what we had heard. Due to the overwhelming silence in the room when Dr Stern was speaking, I think they really appreciated the afternoon.”
The afternoon was jointly organised by Ceredigion County Council’s schools service and ERW.
Bronze-medal winning hairdresser on the road to Shanghai
Hyfforddiant Ceredigion Training (HCT) continue to lead the way in skills competitions across the UK. The latest success story is Bayley Harris, who recently qualified as a Level 2 hairdresser at HCT.
After succeeding in demanding regional and national qualifying rounds, Bayley earned a spot in the grand final of the WorldSkills UK competition which was held from 21 to 23 November 2019 at the NEC in Birmingham.
The competition took place over three full days, with Bayley having to compete in five different categories including dressing long hair, cutting, colouring, bridal hair and barbering. She finished in third place out of a total of ten top-class hairdressers, earning her the bronze medal in the awards ceremony.
As a result of her outstanding performance, Bayley has been selected for the Squad UK for the prestigious international WorldSkills Competition which will take place in Shanghai, China in 2021.
HCT hairdressing tutor Carys Randell, congratulated Bayley for doing so well in the competitions, as they were very intense and of an extremely high standard. She went on to add, “I am so proud of Bayley for coming third in the UK, and I look forward to supporting her on her next journey in Squad UK.”
The WorldSkills competition in Shanghai will feature over 1000 of the world’s most talented apprentices and students competing in over 50 different skills as they battle it out to be named the World Champion in their respective vocation.
Catrin Miles is the Cabinet member responsible for Learning Services and Life-long learning. She said, “It’s great to follow Bayley’s journey within the hairdressing industry. This latest award is a credit to her. Bayley shows where you can reach if you put your mind to work with the support of Ceredigion Training. Good luck in the UK Squad.”
All staff and learners at HCT would like to congratulate Bayley in her most recent competition success and wish her all the best in her bid to represent the UK in China in 2021.
Hyfforddiant Ceredigion Training (HCT) offers a range of vocational courses for people of all ages, including Hairdressing, Childcare, Business Administration, Information Technology, Carpentry, Plumbing, Electrics, Blacksmithing, Motor Mechanics, and Welding. For more information, find HCT on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HyfforddiantCeredigion, or visit the website: http://www.ceredigiontraining.co.uk/hafan.
New student guide to recycling launched
A new student guide on recycling has been launched on Ceredigion County Council’s website.
The guide, aimed at students living in Aberystwyth, provides information on what can be recycled, top tips and how to make the most out of the new waste collection service. The guide raises awareness of the importance of recycling and aims to help improve recycling rates.
To coincide with the guide, a survey is being run for Aberystwyth students who live in private accommodation, to seek their views on recycling and to find out what their current waste disposal habits are. Findings of the survey will be used as part of a wider project looking at behaviour change in recycling, funded by the Welsh Government.
Participants completing the survey will be entered into a prize draw. The prizes, which have been kindly donated, range from a month’s free pass to the Cerdigion Actif swimming pool or gym at Plascrug Leisure Centre, Aberystwyth-branded merchandise from Aberystwyth’s Student Union shop, a group pass to one of Advancing Aberystwyth’s ‘Aber Fflics’ outdoor cinema experiences and an afternoon tea for two at the Coliseum Coffee House at Ceredigion Museum.
Councillor Dafydd Edwards, Cabinet member who has responsibility for Highways and Environmental and Housing Services said, “The new student guide will help make sure that students have got the essential information needed to make full use of the recycling services that are available to them here in Ceredigion. Due to the recent changes to our service, now is an ideal time to raise awareness of how easy it has become to recycle and to reduce the amount of recyclable items thrown needlessly in a black bin bag.
“For many students living in private accommodation, it may be the first time that they’re experiencing living independently and sharing the responsibility for dealing with the waste that they’re producing. This, teamed with the understanding that every Council in the UK differs in the way that they deal with waste, is why we’re currently focusing on our student population in Aberystwyth as they may be used to dealing with waste in an entirely different way.
“We’d like to find out their views on recycling and waste behaviours and to identify and overcome any issues they may be facing. So, if you’re an Aberystwyth student currently living in private accommodation we’d love to hear from you. The survey takes less than two minutes to complete with a chance to win a prize”
The students’ survey can be found here: http://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/StudentSurveyOnRecycling
Aber students’ guide to recycling can be found here: “https://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/media/1068/aber-student-s-guide-to-recycling-2020.pdf
For the latest information on Ceredigion’s waste collection services, including the new postcode search go to: http://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/recycling
The survey is for Aberystwyth students who live in private accommodation only and is open until 02 March 2020. Winners of the prizes from the survey will be announced in March.
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