To help professionals, families and communities think differently about exploitation NWG have developed a set of resources to help start the conversation and challenge how perpetrators may think. The posters “Just 13” show how perpetrators hide through secrecy, blackmail and fear using headline quotes such as “Secret Confessions, hiding it from your family”. This supports us to consider how we support families, friends and communities understand what is happening to their child who is being exploited and understand grooming, power and control. This is relational working, strengthening communities and building and rebuilding relationships with families and safeguarding partnerships so we can work together to disrupt exploitation.
We know that within grooming there can be elements of exchange across all forms of exploitation and how perpetrators target vulnerabilities within families and communities seen in the header “Top 5 gifts and what he’ll want to exchange”. This means that any child or young person is potentially vulnerable and therefore how do we support those families who may not be known to services but where there are real risks for the child and their family.
The overarching message across this series of posters is how mindful are we that the language we use to describe a childs’ exploitation isn’t blaming them and playing into the hands of the perpetrator, highlighted in the quote “How to dress way beyond your age”. Professionals need to be talking with families and develop an understanding with each other about the notion of choice and consent – and that for children and young people that are exploited there is no free choice even if it may be perceived as such. Families whose children have been exploited want to understand what is happening to their child, want to be heard and listened to, to be valued as a safeguarding partner and to be educated around exploitation, consent, language and trauma. By using the posters these may help start these conversations and broaden the discussion.