Chilling advert tells parents to learn how to spot the signs of abuse
The first TV campaign in the UK focused on tackling child sexual exploitation has launched in Scotland.
See the Signs aims to make parents aware of how to spot the signs that their child may be being exploited.
The campaign which features a new TV advert and website was developed by the Scottish Government and is backed by a number of charities including Barnardo’s Scotland, NSPCC Scotland, ChildLine, Children 1St, as well as Police Scotland.
At 40 seconds long, the TV advert features a chilling voiceover of a man's voice coming from the mouth of a rabbit on a phone cover of a young girl's phone. The voice says he has been messaging “your daughter” for weeks and has arranged for them to meet up.
New research by YouGov shows 93% of parents have heard of child sexual exploitation, but almost a third know little about it.
The TV advert will run alongside outdoor advertising, partnership work with local authorities and social media. The campaign is aimed at parents and young people aged 11-17, with the message that child sexual exploitation can happen to any young person, regardless of their gender or background.
Martin Crewe, director of Barnardo’s Scotland, said: “It is vital that we raise awareness of the risks of child sexual exploitation. Although there is widespread concern about the issue, many parents believe their children are not at risk.
“We want to ensure that parents know the signs of child sexual exploitation and can take appropriate action to minimise the risks.”
Child sexual exploitation is happening to boys and girls in Scotland
Child sexual exploitation involves a young person under the age of 18 being manipulated, forced, pressurised or coerced into taking part in a sexual act in exchange for something.
In 2014/15 ChildLine in Scotland provided 635 counselling sessions to children and young people worried about child sexual exploitation with the NSPCC responding to 62 inquiries from adults in Scotland over the year.
Education secretary Angela Constance launched the campaign during a visit to ParentLine in Edinburgh. She said: “Child sexual exploitation is happening to boys and girls in Scotland. By its very nature this form of child abuse is often hidden and many young people who are affected don’t realise they are a victim and will not ask for help.
“The first step in tackling this abhorrent crime is understanding it can happen to anyone. It can take many forms – online, through social media or on phones, as well as in person on a one to one or group basis.
“Barnardo’s Scotland directly supported 266 young people who have been victims or were at risk last year, but these figures may be the tip of the iceberg.
“New research shows that most parents don’t know a lot about it and don’t believe that their family is at risk. This campaign aims to change that and help parents and young people understand the warning signs and prevent the abuse before it takes place.”
Jill Cook, service manager at ParentLine Scotland, added: “The safety and wellbeing of young people is of paramount importance. For young people the internet is a place, not a thing, and just like when they are going out, parents would want to know where their child is going and with whom.
“I’d encourage any parent concerned that their child may be involved in sexual exploitation to call ParentLine for advice and support.”