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If you see something say something

The news this week has presented a story in which a dad was reported to the police after checking into a Travelodge with his young daughter.

Police were called to the hotel after staff had expressed concerns for the child’s safety. The child’s dad had booked the last remaining double room for himself and his daughter for a trip away that he had given her for a Christmas present. On arrival at the hotel staff questioned the father and asked to see identification of himself and his daughter – they had concerns that something a lot darker was occurring.

So what was going on?!

If you see something say something!

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) is a manipulative, horrific and often invisible crime that can affect people from all walks of life in every corner of the world- so how can people help? How can we spot the signs? How can we report any suspicions?

The ‘If you see something say something’ campaign is working to help local businesses- including hotels, takeaways and leisure centres – to feel confident in spotting signs of CSE and confident in reporting concerns. One of the groups of young people that the campaign is benefitting is young people who have run away from home – most of these young people discussed that they had been to hotel parties whilst they were missing. At these parties in hotel rooms older people befriended younger people and offered them drugs, alcohol and gifts and then forced the young people into sexual acts. Hotel staff were unable to spot the signs and intervene, professionals noticed learning potential for community working and ‘if you see something say something’ was born.

The campaign aims to help staff recognise signs of sexual exploitation and the avenues of reporting by equipping businesses and community with the tools to identify and respond to children who are in need of protection. It is hoped that staff will feel confident in acting on suspicious behaviour and protect vulnerable children and young people.

What are your thoughts?

Travelodge are now investigating the incident – perhaps some development is needed, the father has suggested for the website to suggest carrying identification of children to prevent innocent situations from becoming misconstrued. The incident must have been incredibly stressful for the family and no doubt would’ve put a dampener on the beginning of their trip however it shows how much of an effect that the campaign is having – professionals are feeling confident in their ability to question situations and feel confident in reporting their concerns to protect children- and that can’t be a bad thing, can it?

When children are not able to recognise that they are in an exploitative or dangerous situation, or are scared to disclose abuse, we need adults around them who can spot the signs and have the confidence to do something about it. Safeguarding children and young people is everyone’s business – from a hotel receptionist to a member of parliament, from a government minister to a local taxi driver.

 

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