Child Sexual Exploitation is a very real issue in the UK. It can affect any child, under the age of 18, at any time in their childhood, regardless of their home-life or social background.
In 2011, research conducted by the NSPCC found that around 5% of all children in the UK will suffer contact sexual abuse at some point in their childhood. This figure is disturbing, yet as we are in the age of the internet, and more and more children are readily able to use a variety of different internet-enabled devices, then they are at an even greater risk of sexual exploitation.
To raise awareness of this alarming issue, the four police forces across Wales have teamed up to deliver the ‘More You Know’ campaign. Children and young people can be coerced or manipulated in to sexual exploitation, and may even believe their relationships to be normal and ‘consensual’, and this campaign aims to educate children, young people, and adults, about recognising the signs of child sexual exploitation. The ‘more you know’, the more chance you have of helping a child in need.
As part of the campaign, Welsh Rugby Union have offered their support by making a short video encouraging people to be more aware of any signs that something may be wrong, and helping to reduce the risk of sexual exploitation of children. The video, both a Welsh version and an English version, features prolific members of the Welsh squad, including Captain Sam Warburton, Geroge North, Mike Phillips and Rhys Priestland.
In the video, the players stress child sex exploitation can be extremely damaging to a child’s emotional, physical, and psychological health, yet they may never call for help as they are not aware of the extent of the risks that they face. Therefore, it is up to others to be vigilant and educated to recognise when a child is danger.
Detective Superintendent John Hanson of North Wales Police says, “The police with our partners are committed to safeguarding children and young people, and the four Welsh forces are committed to tackling child sexual abuse, helping victims and bringing offenders to justice. If people know what to look out for they can take steps to help a child that is being exploited. People young and old listen to their sporting icons and we are very grateful to the WRU for agreeing to help us deliver these important messages.”
The videos were played for the first time in front of the entire audience at the Wales v France RBS 6 nations game at the Millennium Centre on February 21st to effectively kick start the campaign and reach as many people as possible. Following this video, the WRU will continue to work with police forces across Wales to help safeguard children across the country, and later this month they will be providing a number of safeguarding training events across Wales in conjunction with the NSPCC Child Protection in Sport Unit.