This Thursday (18 March) is National Child Exploitation Awareness Day which aims to highlight the issues surrounding child exploitation and wider exploitation, encouraging everyone to think, spot and speak out against abuse, and adopt a zero tolerance to adults seeking to exploit children in Torbay.

We are committed to supporting the fight against child exploitation and reducing the risk, vulnerability and impact on everyone affected by exploitation.

Together with Devon and Cornwall Constabulary and Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, we will be showing our support for the campaign all week, by sharing a series of pledges across the council’s social media channels – demonstrating our commitment as a partnership to improve outcomes for vulnerable children and young people.

Child exploitation is when an abuser takes advantage of a young person for their own personal gain. This can take many forms, including modern slavery, sexual abuse, trafficking, forcing the child to commit a crime. This is done by manipulating and/or coercing the victim into doing something they don’t want to in exchange for things such as money, gifts, accommodation, affection and status.

Cllr Cordelia Law, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services said; “Torbay Council is committed to tackling and raising awareness of child exploitation. Exploitation doesn’t stop when a person turns 18 and we should always be looking for signs, we believe that by making people aware we can give young people a better chance of being heard”.

Knowing the signs can really help children when they have no one else to turn to, signs to look out for are;

  • going missing for periods of time or regularly returning home late
  • skipping school and being disruptive
  • suddenly having unexplained or possessions or money that can’t be accounted for
  • mood swings and changes in temperament
  • using drugs and/or alcohol
  • changes in the way they dress
  • signs of unexplained physical harm
  • Being frightened of some people and places
  • Being secretive

Nancy Meehan, Director of Children’s Services, Torbay Council, said; “As a corporate parent it is our responsibility to keep our young people safe and protected, but everyone living and working in Torbay can also help us tackle child exploitation if they know what to look out for. We all need to be more aware of the types of child exploitation and what we can do if we see the signs”.

Worried about a child?

Say something if you see something suspicious.

If you feel a child is in immediate danger, please call 999.

If you are worried about a child please call the Torbay Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub on 01803 208100 or email mash@torbay.gov.uk

Out of office hours please call 0300 4564 876.

You can also contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.


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