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Reducing Exploitation and Absence from Care or Home (REACH) is a service which supports young people who either run away or who are at risk of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE).
Its primary purpose is to raise the profile and awareness of CSE and children who go missing, with children and young people, their families and professionals who work with them. To achieve this, REACH promotes the Southwest Peninsula CSE strategy principals by seeking to ‘prepare, prevent, protect and pursue’.
The REACH team consists of CSE practice leads and family practitioners who work alongside other professionals providing support, education and guidance.
REACH family practitioners undertake return home interviews for children who have run away and are not open to social care. The purpose of the interview is to provide the child with space to talk about their experiences and why they ran away.
On occasions, REACH offers support around return home interviews for children who are open to social care, if this is what the child requires.
In addition, REACH family practitioners work in a range of community settings to provide direct interventions with young people and families. This aims to reduce the risk of young people running away or becoming victims of CSE.
Information for professionals
What is CSE?
Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is an illegal activity by people who have power or influence over young people. It is a form of sexual abuse in which a young person is manipulated into taking part in sexual acts. It can happen face-to-face, as well as online or over a mobile phone.
The young person may not recognise what is happening because the abuser makes them think they are in a relationship and are special. CSE can also happen as a result of violence, threats or intimidation. Therefore it is important that professionals don’t rely on the young person disclosing their abuse in order to identify that CSE is taking place.
CSE can happen to anyone, regardless of their gender, age, ethnicity or background,
CSE is not always easy to spot as the warning signs can often be confused with other difficulties the young person is experiencing. These are some of the main indicators of CSE (although it is not an exhaustive list):
- Going missing or absent for periods of time, or regularly returning home late without reasonable explanation.
- Regularly missing school.
- Being secretive about where they are and who they are with.
- Secretive use of the internet.
- Being in contact with older people online that are not part of their usual peer network.
- Having unexplained new possessions, for example, a mobile phone.
- Having older boyfriends or girlfriends.
- Isolation from peer group, family and friends.
- Drug and alcohol misuse.
- Displaying inappropriate sexualised behaviour, including how they dress.
- Mood swings or changes in behaviour.
- Changes in physical appearance such as weight loss or appearing tired all of the time.
- Having unexplained injuries.
- Frequent sexually transmitted infections or unwanted pregnancies.
Who can I speak to?
If you are worried about a child or young person, the first thing you should do is speak to someone at the MASH (Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub) on 0345 155 1071 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and give as much information as you can. If you have immediate concerns about a young person, please call the police on 999.
Support the campaign
A key step in protecting young people from CSE is to raise awareness amongst young people, parents/carers and professionals. Below are links to key online information and leaflets about CSE. Please distribute this information within your agency and consider handing out leaflets to young people or parents/carers that you are working with.
- Devon Children and Families Partnership (DCFP)
- Southwest Procedures
- NWG Network
- Child sexual exploitation: definition and guide for practitioners (Department for Education,2017)
- Statutory guidance on children who run away or go missing from home or care
- CSE Risk Assessment tool and MACSE information