Sharp rise in counselling for sexually exploited children in NI
The NSPCC have reported a sharp rise in the number of counselling sessions on Child Sexual Exploitation.
NSPCC have reported that bases in Northern Ireland held more than 150 counselling sessions about CSE last year for young people worried about grooming and sexual exploitation.
Child sexual exploitation occurs when children are manipulated into sexual activity in exchange for gifts, money or affection.
Many victims of child sexual exploitation also believe they are in a relationship with their abuser.
It can take the form of online and offline grooming, trafficking and sexual harassment.
One 12-15 year-old girl told Childline: “I was playing a game online and started talking to someone who asked me to send them rude pictures. They said they were my age and after talking for a while I sent them some pictures, but now they’re blackmailing me and threatening to show everyone if I don’t carry on. I feel really stupid and I’m scared about what will happen, what should I do?
Local volunteers at the NSPCC Childline bases in Belfast and Foyle delivered 154 counselling sessions to young people worried about CSE in 2016/17 – up from 80 in 2015/16.
The majority of young people worried about this form of sexual abuse were being targeted via the internet.
Across the all of the 12 Childline bases in the UK, the NSPCC service delivered 3,122 counselling sessions to young people concerned about CSE in 2016/17 – an average of eight a day – and up from 2,340 in 2015/16.
The sharp rise highlights the importance of Childline as currently, counsellors can only respond to three out of four children who need their help.
Childline is available on Freephone 0800 1111 24/7, and offers a confidential service to any child, or by contacting www.childline.org.uk, for counselling chat, emails or message boards.