​Sunday, 18 March is National CSE (Child Sexual Exploitation) Awareness Day, which aims to highlight the issues surrounding child sexual exploitation, encouraging everyone to think, identify and speak out against abuse.

The council and partners in Knowsley, including Merseyside Police, are continuing to raise awareness of this sensitive issue by informing, educating and ultimately preventing this form of child sexual abuse which can have devastating effects on the lives of victims and their families.

As part of this work, children and young people, their parents or carers, teachers or professionals working with children are encouraged to visit the Listen to my Story website.  The listen to my story campaign raises awareness of CSE and importantly, where to get help and support.

In addition, on Sunday, 18 March Catch 22 (a charity that supports young people to prevent and stop exploitation) will be attending youth clubs, fast food restaurants and hotels across Merseyside to raise awareness of this important issue.

From Monday, 19 March through to Friday, 23 March, police and council staff will be visiting a number of schools, GP surgeries, NHS walk-in centres, sexual health clinics, hospitals and care homes to engage with residents about this issue, highlighting the signs to look out for and where to report any concerns.

On the Listen to my Story website, there is lots of advice to parents and carers to help them spot the signs that may signal their child is being groomed or exploited – these include:-

• Regularly missing from home or school and staying out all night
• Change in behaviour – becoming aggressive and disruptive or quiet and withdrawn
• Unexplained gifts or new possessions such as clothes, jewellery, mobile phones or money that can’t be accounted for
• Increase in mobile phone use or secretive use
• A significantly older ‘boyfriend’ or ‘friend’ or lots of new friends
• Spending excessive amounts of time online or on their mobile and becoming increasingly secretive about this activity
• Sudden involvement in criminal behaviour or increased offending
• Sexual health problems

Find out more on Listen to my Story’s website.