The report, commissioned by Parents against child sexual exploitation (Pace) and the Safeguarding Children e-Academy, was conducted by YouGov and includes the responses from 750 parents and 945 professionals (made up of 510 teachers, 209 police officers and 226 social workers).
The aim of the surveys was to assess parental and professional understanding, experience, opinions and knowledge of child sexual exploitation (CSE) in England, with a particular focus on the role of parents and the impact of child sexual exploitation on families. The 76 page report provides new and significant insight, information and evidence on safeguarding children from sexual exploitation.
It is good to see an increasingly positive picture of confident professionals and organisations now able to respond to child sexual exploitation. Parents are also aware. This shows the significant progress of the last two years and reflects the commitment of many organisations to tackle this terrible crime.
But it is concerning that parents appear to have fallen into a safeguarding black-hole, with statutory agencies side-lining their role in preventing CSE. For children to be protected from sexual exploitation these surveys evidence that parents need to be brought out of the safeguarding shadows and into the centre of the prevention picture.
More worryingly was the lack of confidence displayed by both parents and practitioners in recognising the key signs of CSE. More than 40% of teachers reported they were not confident they would be able to spot the signs if a child was a victim of CSE, whilst 40% of parents were not confident they could recognise the difference between key CSE indicators and challenging teenage behaviour.