Back to School Series 1 – Making Schools a Safe Sanctuary

Though they can go by in a flash, the summer holidays can be a very transformative time for young people and many will have changed a lot by the time the get back to school in September.

As the summer holidays provide young people with plenty of time to go to parties, make new friends and try new things, most will return to school feeling and acting more grown up. Though the majority of these new experiences will be fun and harmless, in some cases the people that pupils have come into contact with will not have their best interests at heart and may even be out to exploit them.

If a young person is being groomed by people planning to exploit them, the sooner that they get help and support, the better. If you’re a teacher returning to work for the new term, watch out for these warning signs and help keep your pupils out of harm’s way.

Is the young person missing regularly from home or school?

As young people come under the influence of gangs or individuals, they often spend more and more time with them, leaving home for days on end or staying out late into the night without telling their parents or carers.

This could be because the young person is being sexually exploited. Often gangs and individuals will encourage young people to stay with them or with their friends in an attempt to make their target more isolated from friends and family. It could also be because the young person is being trafficked around the country in order to meet other adults and be further exploited.

Have they become more withdrawn?

Young people experiencing sexual exploitation often become withdrawn from friends, family and teachers while the abuse is taking place.

If there’s a child in your class whose personality has changed dramatically over the summer months and who is now withdrawn and uncommunicative, it could be a sign that they are suffering from CSE.

Do they have physical injuries?

Cuts, bruises and abrasions can all be signs of abuse and exploitation.

Young people who experience multiple abortions or sexually transmitted infections could also be experiencing abuse and should be referred to social services or relevant organisations for help and support.

How to help pupils affected by CSE

If you think one of your pupils may be experiencing sexual exploitation, the sooner you act and get them the help they need, the sooner they can get their life back on track.

Check out the rest of our blog posts to find out more about spotting the signs of exploitation and about the help and support available for young people affected by the issue. If you’re a young person who has been affected by CSE call the Rose Project on 0808 800 1037.