THE young people of Wigan were today being urged to consider their friendships and think twice before they post images online.
The theme for the current week of action against child sexual exploitation (CSE) is “know who your friends are,” and will see agencies across Greater Manchester unite for a host of public events, professional training sessions and operational activity, promoting online safety; raising awareness of “peer-on-peer” exploitation and warning young people of the consequences of sending sexually explicit images of themselves – often referred to as sexting.
The week also marks a year since the launch of the It’s Not Okay child sexual exploitation awareness campaign in Greater Manchester.
It was created as part of Project Phoenix, the Greater Manchester response to tackling CSE - a collaboration of public and third sector partners throughout Greater Manchester working together to protect young people.
Since the campaign launched in September 2014, public awareness and understanding of CSE in Greater Manchester has increased considerably amongst young people and their carers, parents and guardians.
The It’s Not Okay campaign has seen thousands of young people and their families receive advice and guidance over the last year, whether through public engagement events, media support or social media and the dedicated website – www.itsnotokay.co.uk , which has seen over 86,000 hits since its inception in September 2014.
Over the last 12 months, Project Phoenix has undertaken substantial work with schools, healthcare providers and support services to ensure that vulnerable young people are helped at every stage – from prevention through to support and rehabilitation. Regular weeks of police enforcement, dedicated days of publicity focusing on key trends and close collaboration across Greater Manchester authorities means that hundreds more young people are being identified and safeguarded than before.
Greater Manchester Police figures show a rise of 268 per cent in the number of incidents reported to police, up to 3,258 (2014/15) from 886 (2013/14). The rise can be attributed to an increase in public awareness, as well as enhanced police officer understanding and more accurate recording of CSE crimes.