In the run up to the Greater Manchester's week of action against child exploitation education sessions were held in 5 of the borough's secondary schools to highlight the warning signs that children could be being criminally exploited.
The powerful monologue performance, 'Crossing the Line', was performed to 425 students at Falinge Park High School, St Anne's Academy, Oulder Hill Community School, Matthew Moss High School and Siddal Moor High School.
In one school a session was also piloted with parents and staff as they're key in spotting the signs, which include:
- young people going missing or travelling to areas where they have no obvious links or connections.
- unexpected, repeated or prolonged absence from school.
- money, clothes or accessories they're unable to account for.
- receiving an excessive amount of texts and phone calls.
- relationships with controlling or older individuals or groups.
- carrying weapons.
- a significant decline in school results or performance.
- self-harm or significant changes in emotional wellbeing – appearing withdrawn, anxious or depressed.
'We are particularly interested in future opportunities to work with interested parents and carers to explore what additional support and approaches from services would help them'
Gail Hopper, our director of children's services, said: "Sessions like this are so important in getting the message out to young people and parents, it was clear that the performance really engaged young people and parents alike and we hope that will raise awareness and encourage further conversations about this important topic and that's vital. We are particularly interested in future opportunities to work with interested parents and carers to explore what additional support and approaches from services would help them."
As well as watching the performance of 'Crossing the Line', the students then took part in facilitated sessions about the signs of exploitation, how to report concerns and shown ways to get out of these situations.
Dean Coady OBE, a retired police officer who now specialises in criminal exploitation and knife crime awareness training, also delivered sessions to over 700 students and 28 staff.
Councillor Rachel Massey, assistant portfolio holder for children's service, said: "We're really keen to provide a range of resources focusing on exploitation of children and young people. We hope that these examples really resonate with them as well as their parents and others who work with young people. It is important to get people talking about this subject, shining a light on the harsh reality."
- More information on the signs of child criminal exploitation and where to report concerns can be found on the Challenger website.