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Child exploitation awareness event to be held in Market Drayton

Shropshire Council is asking local communities and families to attend an event aimed at raising awareness of the risk of child exploitation in Shropshire.

Together Reducing and Ending Exploitation in Shropshire, known as TREES, is the exploitation team in Shropshire who work alongside parents and children who are either at risk of being criminally or sexually exploited.

Donna Richards, from TREES team, said: “It is important to recognise that the exploitation of children absolutely does exist within Shropshire which is a form of abuse outside of the family home.

“This is known as ‘Contextual Safeguarding’ which is an approach to understanding and responding to, young people’s experiences of significant harm beyond their families. It recognises that the different relationships that young people form in their neighbourhoods, schools and online can feature violence and abuse.”

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Some example of this type of abuse includes; online harm where young people are coerced into sending inappropriate photos online, including hate messages which can include peer-on-peer harm and control. Where children are being criminally exploited often this involves debt bondage where we see threats of physical violence being used as a way of coercing and controlling young people who may think that they are receiving free cannabis or alcohol.

Cannabis remains an issue for many young people in the county involved in criminal exploitation, with concerns continuing to be raised around increased violence, anti-social behaviour and young people carrying knives. The team have noted an increase of ‘peer-on-peer’ coercion where we believe that vulnerable young people are being forced to coerce new recruits, as well as issues of young people moving into the territory of coercing other young people to deal drugs.

Raising awareness

Senior Social Worker, Donna Richards, explained why awareness is key: “Parents and carers have little influence over these contexts, and young people’s experiences of extra-familial harm; we want our message to be very clear; the only way we can tackle exploitation is to raise awareness amongst our communities including assisting others to know the signs/indicators of criminal & sexual exploitation so that children can be protected from harm; early identification education and support is crucial to prevent risks from increasing.”

One of the approaches to tackling ‘contextual risk’ is via awareness raising events which is open to communities and families who are key to reporting and identifying risk at the earliest opportunity -therefore due to emerging concerns within the Market Drayton the team are holding an event on Tuesday 16th May at The Grove school 4-7 pm.

Event aims

The aim of event is to:
• Offer support, advice & guidance to parents; children and young people or anyone wishing to know more about exploitation within Shropshire.
• Raise community awareness of the key indicators of exploitation & how to report concerns.
• Ensure that as a community the issues around exploitation are tackled together.
• Understand the support that is available for you and your children.

A number of partner agencies will be at the event, including young person’s substance misuse advisor; Climb, police & members of the TREES team who will be on hand to offer support; advice and offer guidance to anyone who would like to know more or who is affected by child exploitation.

Attend the event

The event will be held on Tuesday 16 May at The Grove school, Newcastle Rd, Market Drayton TF9 1HF, between 4 and 7pm.

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