Around 40 children a month are assessed or reviewed for being potentially at risk of child sexual exploitation, local health experts have warned.
The Western Trust has now urged parents to be aware of the risk of children being sexually abuse by a person who exploits or manipulates them in return for money, gifts, perceived affection or other reasons.
The Trust warned that children are deemed most at risk between the ages of 13 and 15, but younger victims are also being targeted.
Charmaine McNally, the Trust’s Child Sexual Exploitation Lead said: “I work collaboratively with other professionals to safeguard and support young people living in our area from such harm. There are approximately 40 young people in any given month assessed and/ or reviewed in regards to being at potential or suspected risk of CSE.
“At this present moment in time specifically, within the Western Trust, approximately 25 per cent of these young people are confirmed victims, deemed to be at considerable future risk.”
Parents are advised to avail of the support available at www.barnardos.org.uk, www.nspcc.org.uk, or www.safeguardingni.org, and are urged to attend any online safety awareness events organised through schools.
For more information on CSE and local support contact: Gateway Team 9am – 5pm, Mon to Fri on 71314090 or the Regional Emergency Social Work Service outside of these hours on 028 9504 9999.