School 'best place' to learn about sexual exploitation

Nearly three quarters of secondary education teachers say school lessons are the most important way to teach children about sexual exploitation, according to a report being released later this month.

The figure has been revealed on the day the National Crime Agency’s (NCA) CEOP command launches a new educational film designed to teach young people how to spot the signs of an exploitative relationship.

The 18-minute film, which is entitled Exploited, and is aimed at secondary school pupils, tells the story of a teenager who becomes involved with a group that is sexually exploiting a 14-year-old girl. In contrast, the film also looks at a healthy relationship in terms of setting boundaries and mutual respect.

The film is launched on the same day that the charity, Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation (Pace) and Virtual College’s Safeguarding Children e-Academy, reveal figures from two YouGov surveys of 750 parents and 945 professionals made up of teachers (510), the police (209) and social workers (226).  The full report, “Are parents in the picture? Professional and parental perspectives of child sexual exploitation”, will be published on Tuesday 19 November.

The report will show that of the 510 secondary school teachers surveyed, 71 per cent said education in secondary school was the most important way of teaching young people about sexual exploitation.

The new film aims to help young people learn:

  • that in good relationships both people want what is best for each other
  • that some people may seek to use you
  • that some people will make you feel special or use threats to gain control
  • how to tell when a situation is unsafe and how to set boundaries

Jonathan Baggaley, the head of education at the National Crime Agency’s CEOP command said:

“Exploited will give teachers the tools to address the issue of sexual exploitation in an age appropriate and engaging way.

“It focuses on educating young people about a number of behaviours they should watch out for in relationships. It also presents the issues in a realistic way; not just presenting the best of a good relationship and the worst of a bad one, but showing real life situations that young people can relate to.

“We know many schools are already doing a fantastic job in educating children about the risks they face growing up and we hope that Exploited will help them continue this crucial work.”

The film, which can be viewed here, has been produced for CEOP’s Thinkuknow programme as a tool for school teachers and youth group leaders.

The Thinkuknow programme is CEOP’s main educational resource and offers a wide range of information and support for children, parents, teachers and carers. Each year Thinkuknow reaches almost three-million children, and in September this year 16,541 resources were downloaded from its website. Since the programme website launched in 2006 more than 100,000 have signed up as users.

The Thinkuknow programme received international recognition last month when one of its ground-breaking films, First to a Million, won a gold award at the Cannes Corporate Media and TV Awards 2013, in the interactive video category.

Sue Berelowitz, Deputy Children Commissioner for England, said:

“I urge schools, further education colleges and other organisations in contact with children to watch ‘Exploited’ and to show it to the young people for whom they are responsible. 

“It is an excellent resource for use in addressing group-based child sexual exploitation.  Our own work on child sexual exploitation and abuse has identified that schools and further education colleges play an important role in tackling it and we have recommended that a whole school approach is adopted. 

“Schools and further education colleges must focus on making sure children understand and develop healthy relationships with each other and those older than themselves, and professionals must get better at spotting the signs of abuse that children and young people display.  ‘Exploited’ will help to raise awareness of group abuse and protect young people.”

If you have experienced child sexual exploitation or know someone that has you can make a report by using the Click CEOP button at If you, or someone you know, is in immediate danger you should call 999.

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