Today marks the start of Greater Manchester’s week-long campaign ‘It’s not OKAY’, aimed at bringing those guilty of child sexual exploitation to justice. The campaign, led by Greater Manchester Police and a number of partner agencies aims to tackle the rising problem of sexual abuse among vulnerable children and young adults.

The problem that child sexual exploitation poses in effectively tackling the crime, is the nature of the abusive relationship established between the victim and the perpetrator. Sadly in such cases victims are often groomed by their abusers into believing they deserved what has happened, or that the abuse is all part and parcel of a romantic, consensual relationship. Not only does this have long term emotional and psychological ramifications staying with the victim for the rest of their life, but also prevents them from speaking out against their abuser.

As with other forms of abuse, child sexual exploitation is an invisible crime, incidents often go untraced allowing the victim to fall further into an abusive cycle. Those children that are considered the most vulnerable – determined by their socio-economic background – typically find themselves victims, trapped in a manipulative relationship. Take high profile cases of Rotherham and Rochdale, where the majority of victims were ostracised from mainstream society, facilitating widespread cases of sexual abuse on an appalling scale.

It is now widely acknowlegded that more must be done to help victims of abuse, with various inquiries highlighting numerous failings committed by the authorities. Yet the question remains how can we effectively safeguard our children against abuse that is hidden by guise of what they perceive to be a normal relationship?

A large part of this lies in embracing what Sam Monaghan director of Banado’s labels as a “victim focused culture”. Ensuring children are educated about child exploitation is vital in effectively tackling the issue and bringing their abusers to justice. Spearheaded by Greater Manchester Police the ‘It’s not OKAY campaign’ has adopted a pre-emptive approach, publishing a wealth of online content specifically targeted at potential victims – as well as advice for parents or carers. Part of this involves releasing a list of signs to look out for accompanied by a number of case studies in the hope children will recognise exploitive relationships before becoming fully embroiled in abuse.

For full details of the It’s not OKAY campaign, see here.

If you have been the victim of abuse and wish to discuss in confidence how our specialist abuse team can assist please do not hesitate to contact us on 0845 050 1958, alternatively please complete an online enquiry form. We also run an anonymous online chat facility, for further information, click here.