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Protect and Respect: an NSPCC Cymru/Wales initiative tackling Child Sexual Exploitation

Protect and Respect: an NSPCC Cymru/Wales initiative tackling Child Sexual Exploitation

Date: 4th January 2020 | By: national

The National Children of Wales Awards are proud to be supporting the NSPCC (National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children) Cymru/Wales, helping it continue its work supporting children, young people and their families throughout Wales.

From its service centres in Cardiff, Swansea and Prestatyn, dedicated children’s service practitioners from NSPCC Cymru/Wales provide preventative programmes, therapeutic services to help children move on from abuse, and support for parents and families in caring for their children.

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) can happen online and offline, having a lasting impact on a young person’s life - but children continue to be at risk because of a limited understanding of what it is and how to tackle it.

This is why NSPCC Cymru/Wales offers its Protect and Respect service from all three of the children’s charity’s sites in Wales. Protect and Respect works with children and young people to help them recognise the signs that someone may be trying to exploit them, equip them to know how to respond, and teach them who to contact should they have a worry or a concern.

One strand of this work is an awareness raising group work programme with sessions already taking place in secondary schools across Wales, with young people who may have an increased vulnerability to exploitation.  The programme includes groupwork sessions for children and young people aged 11-19 who need a safe and reflective space to learn about healthy relationships and consent, and to explore topics such as internet safety, grooming, and self-esteem. It is designed to raise awareness about the potential risks both online and offline, and to increase young people’s resilience and have a clearer understanding of how to access support.

As part of the group work offer, there is also a mandatory workshop for staff from the school, to help increase their awareness of the topics covered, and how to support the children and young people they work with.  There is also a voluntary workshop offered to parents and carers of the young people who attend the group.  The teenage years are a time in a young person’s life where they want to be more independent and to explore, which is a normal part of growing up. However, the growth of technologies and the different ways that young people communicate means that they are all vulnerable to exploitation.  This is why parents and carers are being given the opportunity to help them learn how to support their child to stay safe in today’s world.

Protect and Respect also offers a 1-1 service with children and young people who are at high risk of or currently experiencing Child Sexual Exploitation.  Children’s service practitioners take a trauma-informed approach, working with children and young people to help them to understand what is happening to them, and to take steps support the child/young person to experience safer relationships and a safer environment.

Alongside this there is also the option for parents or carers to be provided with tailored 1-1 support that helps improve their wellbeing and resilience.   Parents can play a critical role in protecting children from forms of abuse, including child sexual exploitation.  This can include helping families improve their relationships with each other and build on their support networks, as well as having an increased awareness of risks which their child may be exposed to.

The efforts of NSPCC Cymru/Wales to ensure both children and adults feel safe are truly commendable. The charity has been operating for the past 100 years, relying on public donations for 90% of its funding. We are so humbled to have the charity involved with the National Children of Wales Awards.