Bedford Olympian Etienne Stott has stepped up to share the important message that boys and young men are also at risk of child sexual exploitation (CSE).
Bedfordshire Police, in partnership with Bedford Borough Council, Luton Council, Central Bedfordshire Council and Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, are joining forces to tackle CSE in the new #ItHappensToBoysToo campaign launching today.
The aim of the #ItHappensToBoysToo campaign is to continue to raise awareness of CSE, but to highlight that boys and young men can also find themselves as victims of this type of abuse. It also aims to increase the number of cases that are reported, as it is thought that boys often find it more difficult than girls to disclose what is happening to them.
Detective Superintendent Nick Bellingham said: “Children at risk of CSE are not exclusive to one gender; it happens to boys too. Any child can be exploited. Protecting vulnerable children is everyone’s business, and we all need to be alert, to know what to look out for and where to go for advice, as well as having the confidence to report any acts of abuse safe in the knowledge that they will be acted on.
Cllr Shan Hunt Portfolio Holder for Children’s Social Care at Bedford Borough Council, said: “We know that male victims are reluctant to discuss difficult issues and therefore less likely to report their abuse. It’s important we recognise the signs of CSE and ensure that male victims are not overlooked.”
Follow Bedfordshire Police on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and visit Bedfordshire Against CSE to find out more about CSE.