child exploitation

All posts tagged child exploitation

Making failure to report sexual abuse a criminal offence not enough on its own to protect children

Published April 14, 2015 by misty534

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Shocking child abuse scandals have triggered campaigns throughout Britain for legislation making failure to report abuse a criminal offence.

A petition calling for “mandatory reporting” in Scotland has been lodged with the Scottish Parliament by campaigner Scott Pattinson.

Campaigners say staff in faith settings, schools, sports clubs, other institutions and childcare settings must be legally obliged to report to police and or social services. Who could object to that?

Yet many people experienced in working against child abuse and sexual violence have serious worries about the effectiveness of a crusade no-one, including politicians, likes to question. They believe it will both encourage complacency and ignore more urgent changes needed before mandatory reporting could make much difference – at least in sexual abuse, the main abuse in recent scandals.

However, we can all agree that the most senior management level in these settings should indeed be mandated to report so that scandals where church leaders, or heads of homes and schools kept information about paedophiles to themselves would end. But junior staff should not be threatened and intimidated with criminal sanction. Other reforms also need greater priority. Why?

Reporting doesn’t mean reports will be acted on, nor children protected. Countless reports were made by outraged staff to police and social services of children raped and brutalised by child exploitation gangs or in care homes, yet nothing was done. This will continue until key agencies and criminal justice interpret those acts as abuse, instead of deciding stigmatised young people make lifestyle choices, or are just prostitutes, troublemakers, delinquents or liars. Changes of attitude need to be enforced through compulsory training, backed by the professional sanction of disciplinary action.

Even if reports are acted upon, children and young people will continue being traumatised and discredited in court so long as they’re used as the main source of evidence and without further curbs on defence conduct. Why not pilot in Scotland one of the “children’s houses”, so successful in preparing such cases sensitively for court in Scandinavia?

Most children remain unable to tell adults if they are being sexually abused. In my research alone, young people gave 14 different reasons why they did not tell. The climate for “instant action” in mandatory reporting would further deter young people from confiding in staff. They need time to develop trust and overcome fears, and greater control over the speed of investigation. In successful child exploitation investigations, police have painstakingly built trust with stigmatised, distrustful young people. Hence three local authorities hope to pilot Scottish “confidential space” projects, to gather evidence thoroughly at sexually abused young people’s pace, with emphasis on making them safe and achieving some positive outcome. How would this child-centred practice coexist with mandatory reporting, or give young people any sense of control or involvement?

Worrying behaviour seen or heard is rarely clear cut, but filled with doubts and uncertainties. Mandatory reporting assumes people will clearly recognise sexual or other abuses. But most don’t, as any training exercise reveals. What am I seeing/hearing? Am I exaggerating, imagining, mistaken? Are they just kids experimenting? Might I ruin his career?

More “worry ‘phone lines'” and secure internet advice services, staffed by child protection specialists, where people can talk through worrying scenarios, are urgently needed. Most adults responsible for children think they’re not allowed to ask if they’re being sexually abused.

“Backlash” propaganda has made school and youth staff fear to ask even sensitive, open-ended (and clearly permitted) questions of children, even when they strongly suspect sexual abuse. Disclosures and reports remain tiny in most schools. Simply making quite clear to teachers that it’s permissible to ask would make a big difference.

Most adults find sexual abuse a difficult, upsetting subject they prefer to avoid. Threats of prison increase fear and panic: support builds confidence and courage. Regular confidence- building and reflective discussion for staff groups throughout organisations will achieve this – not stern instruction, nor the big stick.

We need to campaign for the changes above so that, if mandatory reporting is eventually implemented, it only takes place in a climate of informed awareness and confidence, lack of prejudice against children, and a legal and criminal justice system which gives them better hope of protection.

Sarah Nelson is a writer and researcher specialising in sexual abuse issues, based at the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships at the University of Edinburgh.

Child sexual exploitation is “top priority” in Plymouth, says charity boss

Published October 25, 2014 by misty534

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CHILD sexual exploitation is happening everywhere and should be a concern for everyone, according to the regional boss of a children’s charity.

Duncan Stanway, Barbardo’s South West assistant director, says tackling child sexual exploitation is a top priority for organisations working with young people in Plymouth.

Mr Stanway was speaking during a week of sexual exploitation awareness, supported by Plymouth City Council.

He said: “Child sexual exploitation is happening in towns and cities all across the UK and Barnardo’s has been leading the fight against this awful crime for many years now.

“Locally, we fund Plymouth Barnardo’s Against Sexual Exploitation (BASE), which has been helping children to rebuild their shattered lives.

“We are delighted to be working with Plymouth City Council to raise awareness of this important issue and hope it will help to highlight the warning signs to look out for, the importance of early intervention and how we can all work together to protect some of society’s most vulnerable young people.”

Councillor Sue McDonald, PCC cabinet member for children and young people, said: “I believe there is a very real need for greater public awareness to prevent child exploitation, and welcome this week as part of our continuous programme to prevent the sexual abuse of children.

“We are making sure that tackling child sexual exploitation is a priority for Plymouth City Council and everyone working for children and families in the city.”

The week of action involved workshops specialising in working with male victims; advice on reducing the risks for young people early in life; and stopping child trafficking and slavery.

The Herald

Number of Wandsworth child sexual exploitation cases quadruples in one year

Published October 23, 2014 by misty534

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Number of child sexual exploitation cases quadruples in one year

The number of child sexual exploitation cases reported to Wandsworth police has increased fourfold in one year.

Borough police dealt with 55 cases of youngsters considered at risk of child sexual exploitation (CSE) during the 2013/14 financial year. They dealt with just 12 cases the previous year.

The recently published Annual Report of Wandsworth Safeguarding revealed, from May 2013 to April 2014, the council’s sexual exploitation multi-agency panel (Semap) reviewed 51 cases of child sexual exploitation aged from 12 to 18. Four of the youngsters were boys and 47 were girls.

The report noted a continued increase of referrals to Semap and a rise in referrals of CSE to social care.

It said: “High profile cases such as Rochdale and Birmingham reminds us that we need to always be vigilant about this matter and ensure we have rigorous procedures in place to address this issue and keeping children and young people safe from sexual exploitation.”

One Wandsworth youngster has been placed in secure accommodation on welfare grounds of sexual exploitation.

Three children went to new homes, following concerns about sexual exploitation, and seven looked-after young people have moved out of the area as a result of sexual exploitation.

The NSPCC defines child sexual exploitation (CSE) as abuse in which youngsters are sexually exploited for money, power or status.

Guardian

Sex-risk children ‘let down by Sheffield police’

Published October 22, 2014 by misty534

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Ms Lucas led the Sexual Exploitation Service in Sheffield until 2012 

Hundreds of young people at risk of child sexual exploitation in Sheffield were let down by police, a whistleblower has claimed.

Ann Lucas, who ran the city’s sexual exploitation service, told BBC News she had regularly passed details about alleged abusers to senior officers.

They had repeatedly failed to act, she said, adding the force’s priorities had been “burglary and car crime”.

South Yorkshire Police said the allegations would be investigated.

The force is already facing an investigation following the publication of an independent report in August that accused it of failing child-exploitation victims in Rotherham.

That report found at least 1,400 children had been abused over a 16-year period.

‘Exploitation gangs’

However, Sheffield, just six miles from Rotherham, was seen as a model for tackling child sexual exploitation.

In 1997, the council set up a unit to look at the problems of young girls engaged in prostitution in the city.

The aim was to understand what drove them to it and to treat them as victims, not criminals.

In 2001, the city secured Home Office funding to set up the Sexual Exploitation Service, bringing together council, voluntary and health services.

The police were also involved, initially providing a constable to work with the team on a part-time basis.

In later years, the police provided some funding to the service and increased the commitment of the part-time officer.

“I felt for years that I was banging my head against a brick wall because it wasn’t a priority”

Between 2001 and 2013, at least 668 young people, mainly girls, were referred to service, according to figures obtained by BBC News.

Some were as young as 11, most were white, 14 to 15 years old, and living at home.

About a third were under the care of the council.

Ann Lucas ran the project from its inception in 1997 until she retired in 2012. She is full of praise for the front-line officers she worked with, but is highly critical of some of their superiors.

In 2003-04, she and her team started mapping by whom the children were allegedly being abused, the addresses of where they were being exploited, the names and nicknames of the perpetrators and their car registration details.

‘Misconduct?’

She said all the information had been passed on to senior police officers but that no prosecutions had followed.

She said: “There were arrests and child abduction notices [were served], so they might move off that young person, but without the prosecuting strand being strong, we could divert the person away but with the message [to the abusers] that you could get away with this, so they would move on to other young people.”

In 2006, the service became aware that a group of teenage girls were being abused, allegedly by a group of Iraqi Kurdish men.

A document seen by BBC News shows that one 13-year-old girl told officials she had been raped by five men, had experienced physical violence, including being punched, kicked and burned with cigarettes, and had had threats made against her family if she told anyone.

Ms Lucas said she and another council official, had gone to see Jon House, who was chief superintendent for Sheffield at the time.

She said she had showed the former chief superintendent all the information they had collected, and asked that a police investigation be launched into the allegations.

She said: “I was told that their [the force’s] priorities were burglary and car crime and we had to cope with no extra police resources. It was extraordinary. How could anyone in their right mind think that burglary and car crime is more important than young people being raped?”

Staffing boost

Mr House, who has left the police and is now a senior manager with PWC consultants, said: “Without more, I cannot immediately remember the details of a meeting alleged to have taken place eight years ago. Throughout my period we had to deal with very serious issues on a daily basis.”

South Yorkshire Police said: “This is a question that only those involved can answer. South Yorkshire Police will look into these allegations and where there is evidence of any misconduct referrals will be made to the IPCC.”

Ann Lucas took her information, which included allegations that the girls were being moved to other cities, to the newly opened Human Trafficking Centre. They assessed it and asked South Yorkshire Police to investigate the claims. “They re-branded it as trafficking, which was a priority,” said Ann Lucas.

“They took exactly the same information back to South Yorkshire Police a few months later who took it on and mounted an investigation.”

Operation Glover led to six men being convicted. Aziz Hamed and Ajad Mahmoud were each sent to prison for 10 years for serious sexual offences, while two others also received substantial custodial sentences.

South Yorkshire Police said Operation Glover “was focused on child sexual exploitation and not human trafficking, although we understand the two are often intrinsically linked”.

Ms Lucas is delighted that more officers are now being asked to investigate child sexual exploitation and that it’s finally, maybe, receiving the priority it deserves. “I felt for years that I was banging my head against a brick wall because it wasn’t a priority,” she said.

Ms Lucas passed all her allegations on to Chief Constable David Crompton, of South Yorkshire Police, during a meeting last month.

In a statement, the force said “they will look into the allegations and where there is evidence of any misconduct referrals will be made to the Independent Police Complaints Commission”.

They added since 2013, there had been a six-fold increase in staff dedicated to tackling child sexual exploitation.

And they said the National Crime Agency was to investigate how the force handled historical allegations of sexual grooming and that the terms of reference for that inquiry were being finalised at the moment.

BBC

Suspended sentence paedophile from Chigwell admits child sexual exploitation

Published October 22, 2014 by misty534

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A paedophile who received a suspended sentence after pleading guilty to sexual activity with a girl and possessing child pornography has now admitted 13 counts of arranging the trafficking of children for sex.

Simeon Osen, of Forest Lane in Chigwell, was sentenced to an eight month suspended sentence on October 7 last year after pleading guilty to four counts of sexual activity with a girl aged between 13 and 17, three counts of making indecent images of a child and two counts of possessing extreme pornography between September 2010 and February 2013.

The 53-year-old has now admitted 13 of 20 charges against him for procuring children for sex abroad during the same period.

Osen appeared at Harrow Crown Court on October 10 and entered his guilty plea.

He is due to appear at the same court on November 6 for sentencing.

Osen’s suspended sentence was referred to the Attorney General following a complaint it was too lenient.

But the sentence was upheld.

A spokesman for the Attorney General said at the time: “The Solicitor General considered that the judge applied the relevant sentencing guidelines and took account of all relevant factors.

“He does not consider that the Court of Appeal would interfere with the sentence and has decided not to refer it.”

Disturbing new trends emerge in sexual abuse of children –

Published October 15, 2014 by misty534

A recent United Nations report draws attention to alarming trends in sex offences against children in Southeast Asia. Contributing factors range from economic disparity, urbanisation and cheaper air travel, urbanisation and cheaper air travel to faster internet connections that have fostered a a huge child pornography industry, with many types of offenders.

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A researcher from the children’s rights group Terre des Hommes starts a session in a public chat room where users solicit a fake 10 year old named “Sweetie from the Philippines”,, in a computer generated image.  The group says that in recent years more child prostitutes in Southeast Asia have been leaving the streets but the abusive sex trade has simply moved online!

Sex offenders who prey on children have adjusted as technology and demographic changes in the region make it even easier to engage in illicit activities, says the 49 page report titled ” Protecting the Future: Improving the Response to Child Sex Offending in Southeast Asia” released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

Debunking the sterotype that those engaged in child sexual exploitation are westerners, the report also shows that Asian tourists and expats are increasingly involved.

“Tackling child sex exploitation is no simple task.  Finding solutions to this appalling crime will require a concerted effort from a multitude of actors across the region”, said Jeremy Douglas, the UNODC Regional Representative.

“The dividends from a well-coordinated response include efficiency and respect for the rule of law, but more importantly, it will create a safer environment for children and ensure offenders are stopped in their tracks”.

Action in one country is longer sufficient as offenders can easily migrate to jurisdictions with less resistance, said Mr Douglas.

For too long, a piecemeal approach has been the norm, and while national governments and the international community can count some major successes in the past few years, withouta comprehensive response to the problem, exploitation will continue to lurk just below the surface!

According to the International Labour Organisation, there are approximately 4.5 million victims of sexual exploitation around the world, around 20% of them children.  These child victims exist in every country in Asia and are caught in a range of different circumstances that make them vulnerable to exploitation.

The UNODC report explained the intertwined nature of sexual exploitation of childre, which encompasses the overlapping issues of the prostitution, the depiction of children in sexual abuse material (child pornography) trafficking of children for sexual purposes, and the sexual abuse of children (including but not limited to child sex tourism)

The report said socio-economic disparities increase vulnerability to victimisation, as GDP per capita in the ranges from $944 in Cambodia with similarly low levels in Myanmar and Laos, Vietnam ($1,716), Indonesia ($3,557) to Thailand and China (around $6,000).

In Thailand, tourism constitutes 6.5% of the country’s gross domestic product!! The country is also a top destination for sex tourism for foreigners around the world. The combination of the region’s youthful population and widespread poverty also increases vulnerability to child sex exploitation.

The economic growth arising from tourism has not always translated into better opportunities for children who live in tourist areas.

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Children found in these areas, such as those employed in entertainment establisments or living or working on the street, are at greater risk of being exploited.  Unfortunately, historical, economic and social issues in the region have created in some cases an environment ripe for sex tourism and with this, avenues for the sexual exploitation of children in tourism and travel.

The sclae of the challenge is immense. Cheaper air travel, globalisation and new telecommunications technologies all interact to exacerbate an already complex and difficult problem

As governments in the region struggle to take control of the situation, travellers who prey on the young adapt and move to areas, with more lax regulation and enforcement.  In short, a crackdown in one country can lead to an influx in another.

For example, Cambodia, Vietnam and more recently, Mongolia have suffered an influx of tourists whose main goal is to have sex with a child, possibly as a result of the Thai government’s efforts to combat child exploitation within its borders. The information was provided by Expat, a non-government organisation to END CHILD PROSTITUTION, CHILD PORNOGRAPHY AND TRAFFICKING OF CHILDREN FOR SEXUAL PURPOSES

Offenders have develped and shared a number of methods to disguise their criminal activities. For example, the use of multiple passports and absconding bail in order to travel between countries in the region, particularly to those that have a lower capacity for detcting these crimes, and concealing identities when engaged on online child sex chat forums.

Well established patterns of child sex exploitation integrated into tourism flows suggest future growth projections will threaten many more children, as the number of arrivals is expected to triple.

The process of urbanisation could also dislocate families from traditional and stable sources of income in their home countries, or regions. This economic, precariousness can push some people into the sex industry, especially young people who are also disconnected from their families and susceptible to outside influence.

Responses to this trend should not attempt to limit the flow of people into cities, but rather prepare them for the risks they may face, including internet education.

As internet usage becomes more widespread across the region, more children will become vulnerable to online “grooming” and exploitation through sexual abuse materials and the online streaming of child sexual abuse.

Protection in this area must encompass a wide range of actors beyond law enforcement, such as parents, schools and teachers the UNODC noted.

The online environment of the 21st century has transformed criminality in various ways, as an advanced vehicle for communications, it has created a transnational enviornment that provides new opportunities for organising and participating in harmful activities, and the virtual nature of the online environment means criminal activity can sometimes fall outside the jurisdiction of the criminal justice process

The report also noted that those involved in “Child sex tourism” were not only tourists but could also be business travellers, foreigners working directly iwht children and other vulnerable groups, military personnel posted abroad, diplomats and government employees, expatriates or foreign nationals on extended travel, and retired expats residing abroad.

ITV News investigation finds hundreds of child abusers walking free in Manchester due to police failings

Published October 14, 2014 by misty534

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Whistleblowers claim Greater Manchester Police failed to act on claims of child abuse. Credit: PA WireHundreds of child abusers are walking the streets of Manchester because police have failed to investigate claims of abuse, an ITV News investigation has found.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) has been accused of covering up their failure to act on claims that gangs of Asian men abused young white girls over a 10-year period.

Victims say they have identified offenders but police have been reluctant to act.

Two former detectives have told ITV News senior officers were not interested in following up allegations because the crime is “difficult to prosecute”.

GMP Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy agreed that child sexual exploitation is a difficult crime to prosecute and claimed his officers “developed a mindset that victims in these sorts of cases would always been unreliable.”

he findings come just months after a damning report found at least 1,400 children were subjected to sexual exploitation in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013, with “blatant” collective failings by the council and South Yorkshire Police blamed for the abuse.

Former detective constable Margaret Oliver submitted a report to senior GMP officers more than 10 years ago with details of the abuse allegations.

Oliver said she disclosed the names of victims and offenders to her bosses who took no action.

Oliver – who eventually resigned over the inaction – claims there is a “lack of desire” to investigate abuse, blaming Sir Peter Fahy for the force’s failure to tackle the issue.

“There’s no lack of evidence, the evidence is there, there is a lack of desire to follow the lines of enquiry,” she said.

“Peter Fahy is responsible for GMP. He cannot pretend that he doesn’t know what is not being done in relation to the investigation of this kind of crime.

“I told him and I won’t be the only person who told him.”

She believes if the crime had been taken more seriously a decade ago the problem would not have escalated.

ITV News
Former detective constable Margaret Oliver speaking to ITV News.Credit: ITV News

Six years after Ms Oliver’s initial report, another detective voiced her concern that the problem had spiralled “out of control”.

Again, GMP bosses were said to be unwilling to get involved.

“I told them young girls were being abused but they didn’t listen or resource the investigation,” the officer said.

“They were only interested in target crimes: robbery, burglary and car theft.

“Because this kind of crime is difficult to prosecute and didn’t show up quickly on crime figures they weren’t interested.”

In 2012, nine men were convicted of raping and trafficking young girls as young as 13 in Rochdale.

However ITV News has been told GMP has files full of further names, evidence and statements from victims but no suspects have been charged.

Several police officers, who worked very closely to these investigations, say they are “gravely concerned” by the force’s apparent inability to investigate the crimes effectively.

The failure to stop the abuse of young girls in Rochdale is the subject of a major internal investigation at GMP, but the results of that report are yet to be delivered two years on.

In a letter obtained by ITV News, a third officer claims there is a “cover-up” within the force.

He says the report has been re-written on nine separate occasions to water down the apparent failings and to distance senior officers from the probe.

Simon Danczuk, MP for Rochdale, said officers have approached him with concerns over the failure to prosecute alleged rapists.

“It’s my view that there are rapists out there that have raped young girls in and around Rochdale, in and around greater Manchester and that the police aren’t effectively taking prosecutions against them.

“And I reached that conclusion by the fact that I have police officers coming to me and they are raising concerns.”

Addressing the claims, Sir Peter Fahy said: “We must try and do everything we can to contain these people, to get people arrested, to get people convicted, but we are misleading the public if we think absolutely police can solve this problem.

ITV News
Sir Peter Fahy speaking to ITV News’ Martin Geissler. Credit: ITV News

“We made mistakes in the past where some of our officers developed a mindset that victims in these sorts of cases would always been unreliable, and I think that was also a mindset which developed among prosecutors as well.

Asked whether that mindset had changed, Fahy replied: “It has changed but what hasn’t changed is the courts system.”

Fahy said GMP had to look at the issue in a “much broader way” to stop people abusing, adding: “We will look at people who are abusers and say even if we can’t get them for this particular offence, we will try and hit them with anything else we can even – if it’s their taxi licence, the shop they run or if they’re involved in any other form of criminality.”

Asked whether convicting people who rape children of less serious crimes was good enough, Fahy said: “If that’s the only thing we can get them for, then that’s what we have to get them for.”

ITV