Help to overcome harm; prevent revictimization and promote healthy relationships
The project receives funding from Henry Smith Charitable Foundation and is accessible to children and young people aged 9-18 across Blackpool, Wyre & Fylde. WIRED offers a range of holistic and therapeutic support to children/young people who have been abused and exploited. The project employs a full-time Advanced Child Sexual Exploitation Practitioner and a part-time therapeutic Counsellor.
When a child and their family need to access support for CSE they may understandably have numerous concerns about what could happen when agencies and professionals become involved, at a time when they are experiencing significant trauma which they have no control over. All forms of sexual abuse cause serious harm and WIRED are mindful of the context in which children/young people and their families can encounter a victim-blaming response.
How are children sexually exploited?
There are many factors that contribute to CSE being complex and difficult to unravel. It is not easily identified and to assist with referrals the following illustrate examples that fall within the definition of CSE:
• A 44 year old female posing as a 17 year old female online and persuading a 12 year old male to send her a sexual image, and then threatening to tell his parents if he doesn’t continue to send more explicit images;
• A 14 year old male giving a 17 year old male oral sex because the older male has threatened to tell his parents he is gay if he refuses;
• A 14 year old female having sex with a 16 year old gang member and his two friends in return for the protection of the gang;
• A group of men bringing two 17 year old females to a hotel in another town and charging others to have sex with them; and • Three 15 year old females being taken to a house party and given ‘free’ alcohol and drugs, then made to have sex with six adult males to pay for this.
These are taken from the DfE text ‘Child Sexual Exploitation: Definition and a guide for practitioners, local leaders and decision makers working to protect children from child sexual exploitation’ and can be viewed at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/child-sexual-exploitation-definition-and-guide-for-practitioners
Does a child/young person experience CSE due to their vulnerability?
No. A child or young person’s perceived or actual vulnerability is not the reason they are sexually exploited. Ultimately children are vulnerable to abuse when those who seek to harm them are not prevented from doing so coupled with weak legal sanctions.
Children have the right to be kept safe and should not encounter barriers to protection during their childhood and adolescence.
“The focus on measuring risk also leads to children being framed as ‘risk takers’ or ‘displaying risky behaviours’ rather than the perpetrators being seen as the risk. When it comes to prevention, this has influenced the way children are supported and protected. Rather than the offender being risk assessed and changed, stopped or apprehended, CSE strategies focus on changing the ‘risk level’ of the child.” (CSE Practice Innovation and moving forward Dr J Taylor 2020)
Does CSE always involve physical contact?
No. CSE does not always involve physical contact, it can occur online, where children are coerced, manipulated, and forced into sexual activity. Examples of sexual activity may include:
- Being shown sexually inappropriate content
- Witnessing or being made to watch sexual activity
- Being coerced into sending a nude image
Children may not be aware they have been coerced or manipulated.
Who can be referred to the WIRED project?
WIRED has specific criteria due to its funding.
This means that WIRED is able to offer support in the following circumstances:
- The child/young person must be between the age of 9-18 of any gender
- The child/young person must live within the boundaries of Blackpool, Wyre & Fylde
- The child/young person has experienced current or historic* CSE. This refers to abuse the child may have experienced through a relationship in person or online, without physical contact
*Referrals will be triaged on an individual basis.
If you would like to make a referral into the project please contact the Advanced Child Sexual Exploitation Practitioner on 07595-202548 or email email@example.com to request an electronic referral form.
WIRED can only support CYP where CSE is known to have taken place and are unable to offer early intervention. If you would like further clarification please do not hesitate to get in contact.
WIRED can support CYP after they have been safeguarded following being sexually exploited and abused.