first_imgThe “Say Something” campaign was launched in Westminster this week with the support of Nicola Blackwood, Oxford West and Abingdon MP. The campaign was founded by the national charities NWG Network and Missing People, with the aim to safeguard children and young people from sexual abuse by empowering them to identify early signs of child sexual exploitation.It will offer a free, 24-hour, nationwide anonymous phone and SMS helpline (116 000) enabling young people to disclose information and seek support for themselves or their peers. The hope is that the introduction of a secure helpline, importantly with the option to remain anonymous, will give more young people the confidence to come forward with their concerns. Nicola Blackwood told Cherwell: “It is important that we all think about this, spot the signs and speak out against abuse, and adopt a zero tolerance attitude to adults developing inappropriate relationships with children. There is a responsibility on everyone in society to do all that they can to protect vulnerable people. Together, we can work to inform, educate and prevent this kind of child abuse. Anything that increases signposting in this crucial area has to be commended, and hopefully this helpline will increase reporting.” A significant aspect of the campaign is that it seeks to work with young people for young people, with its website,, including an advice section written by young people. “Even though you might think that there’s nothing left or nowhere to go or nothing good will happen. It’s not true. Everything will be ok,” one writes, while another stresses the need to “never think no one will believe you. Someone will believe and trust you.”Alongside crucial contact information, the website offers some important advice such as the dangers of meeting in person individuals you have spoken to online. It also outlines a definition of child sexual exploitation as ‘when a young person is used by being made or tricked into doing something sexual sometimes receiving something in return like love, affection, money, drugs or alcohol’.Ione Wells, the Oxford University student who launched the #notguilty campaign to support victims of sexual assault, commented: “It’s really important that young people feel that they can recognise sexual exploitation themselves and know how to seek help too, as it might sometimes be easy to think ‘they’re being overprotective’ or ‘they don’t know me enough to judge’ if other people make such observations – and sometimes this may be true.“I hope the campaign can help individuals to feel more in control of their situation, and able to seek the help they need, as well as educating everyone to look out for others in their community and work together to combat exploitation. I also hope that in peer-to-peer situations it stresses that noticing signs must be approached sensitively and avoid accusatory tones. It is crucial that victims do not feel blamed, or told that they ‘got themselves into’ a situation like that, when they have been subjected to damaging exploitation by others.”The campaign partnership was funded by the Department of Education and sees the collaboration of the charity NWG Network (a UK network of professionals working with children and young people who are at risk of or have experienced sexual exploitation), and Missing People (which has over 20 years’ experience of providing phone-based support to vulnerable and exploited children, many of whom have suffered from sexual abuse). It also operates Runaway Helpline for children and young people who are considering running from home, or have already done so.In 2013, the NGW Network launched the successful campaign ‘Say Something if you See Something’ which continues to provide awareness-raising materials to the night-time economy workforce and hotels, to help them recognise indicators of child sexual exploitations and report suspicious activity. It has been implemented across the UK and most recently Canada, with the toolkit (including information for taxi companies and hotels) downloaded over 2500 times. In a single UK region, the project has so far resulted in 43 reported incidents leading to 9 safeguarding enquiries.last_img read more