Health commissioners in Birmingham are helping doctors and other health professionals tackle Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) by organising a special conference in the city on March 18.
The event, led by Birmingham South Central and Birmingham CrossCity Clinical Commissioning Groups, coincides with National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day and will allow GPs and other clinicians to find out more about recognising the signs of CSE and how to act on them.
CSE is a crime that can affect any child, anytime, regardless of their social or ethnic background. It is child abuse and involves perpetrators grooming their victims in various ways, such as in person, via mobiles or online, to gain their trust before emotionally and sexually abusing them.
It can take place in many forms, whether through a seemingly consensual relationship, or a young person being forced to have sex in return for some kind of payment, such as drugs, money, gifts or even protection and affection.
Accountable Officer for Birmingham South Central Commissioning Group, Dr Diane Reeves said: “CSE is a national emergency – a blight on young people’s lives and on our society. We in the NHS are committed to tackling it and supporting those who have experienced it to break free and achieve their full potential in life. We believe this is best done by working closely in partnership with the council, schools and the police, and most importantly our local communities.”
Chief Nurse and Quality Officer for Birmingham Cross City Commissioning Group Jenny Belza said: “GPs and their networks, which include practice nurses and receptionists are some of the best placed people in our communities to identify children who are being sexually exploited. This event and the work that will follow from it will empower GPs to identify potential victims and act on their findings by working with other agencies including police, Birmingham City Council, charities and community groups.”
The West Midlands strategic lead for CSE Stephen Rimmer said: “The threat of sexual exploitation of children and young people across the region is a clear and present one, and must stop now. Although we have significantly improved our operating procedures across the police, children’s services, schools, health, voluntary sector and other key partners to identify and safeguard victims, and bear down on perpetrators, there is still much to do.
“GPs and other health professionals are key to spotting warning signs of vulnerability to abuse, and need to be confident about what happens after they refer their concerns. And communities themselves have a crucial part to play – which is why our website on tackling CSE across the West Midlands – www.seeme-hearme.org.uk is aimed at parents and young people as well as professionals.”
A Twitter wall will provide live updates during the course of the event, which can be followed at #Bham_CSE.