Faculty of Public Health Annual Conference, 2019

(Image of NSPCC Child Sexual Exploitation Poster making clear that ‘It Happens Here’)

At the Faculty of Public Health Annual Conference 2019, a presentation on the “It happens here: A Child Sexual Exploitation Campaign for Dumfries and Galloway” was given by Laura Gibson. The topic of the presentation was in relation to a child sexual exploitation campaign developed by the Scottish government in partnership with NSPCC aiming to raise awareness of the issue to young people, parents/carers, practitioners and the wider community in the Dumfries and Galloway area. The main reasons leading to this campaign were the lack of awareness of the risk factors, the lack of understanding about healthy relationships and misconceptions from media.

The campaign launched in March 2019 and consisted of posters, leaflets, postcards for businesses, bus liners, workshops with young people, workshops with parents/carers and workshops with practitioners. The campaign strap line “It happens here” was used to demonstrate that child sexual exploitation is happening within the Local Authority, not just in larger cities as portrayed by the media. The campaign was found to have an impact as more than 1,000 individuals, including children and young people, parents/carers and professionals/volunteers were engaged with the workshops. The NHS, the Council and the NSPCC also helped in raising awareness of the issue by distributing the relevant posters and leaflets to the public.

In terms of the campaign’s future steps, the campaign will remain active until April 2020. After the campaign’s completion, its evaluation will take place. One of the key points discussed after the presentation was the issue of diversity in the campaign’s posters and leaflets by involving children and young people of all ages and origins. Other key issues raised were the procedure followed after reporting concerns to Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) in Dumfries and Galloway and the impact of the campaign to individuals already having been sexually abused.

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