PCC welcomes WiSE up to Boys campaign to raise awareness of sexual exploitation of boys and young men


Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne has welcomed the launch of a new awareness-raising campaign after a report commissioned by her office found boys and young men risk being overlooked as potential victims of sexual exploitation.

A series of short films, which depict different models of exploitation through a number of scenarios, were premiered by the YMCA at a preview event last night (13 November).

The campaign follows a six-month study by the YMCA Downslink Group’s WiSE (What is Sexual Exploitation) Project which revealed a complex picture in Brighton and Hove and East Sussex with the wider public failing to realise boys may be at risk as well as girls.

The report highlighted a lack of sufficient awareness-raising schemes: while two-thirds of boys aged 11-17 who responded online had had sexual exploitation explained to them at school, one in five reported they had never had it explained by anyone. One mother, asked if there was anything that might have prevented her son’s exploitation, explained: “They never did anything like that in school; they should make it a class, explain what grooming is.”

Only one in five boys and 26% of girls said their parents had spoken to them about exploitation – though the overwhelming majority of parents (96%) surveyed said they had or would try to explain it.

“I welcome the launch of this hard-hitting campaign in addressing the different ways in which boys and young men might be sexually exploited, some of which are currently under-acknowledged,” says Mrs Bourne.

“The report showed a lack of understanding of the levels of peer-on-peer exploitation, in which children and young people are sexually coerced by others the same age. Only one in five children and young people considered that those the same age may sexually exploit boys, compared to 84% who identified that strangers online may try and sexually exploit boys.

“It also showed that there is more of a stigma associated with sexual exploitation of boys and young men, so this campaign is a vital step towards breaking those barriers.”

Sussex Police has lent its weight to the WiSE Up to Boys campaign and will be sharing the videos on its social media channels.

Detective Superintendent Jason Tingley urged the force’s social media followers to share the clips to help spread the message and added: “CSE is a crime that can affect any child, anytime, anywhere, regardless of their gender, sexuality or their social or ethnic background. By supporting this campaign we want to make it absolutely clear that whatever a child’s gender or circumstances we will always take them seriously - it is never their fault.”

 You can support the campaign by:
• Following the WiSE project on Twitter @thewiseproject, Instagram @ymcawise and on Facebook @ymcawise
• Liking, sharing or retweeting their campaign videos/links, using the hashtag #wiseuptoboys
• Read more about the campaign here.


Notes for editors:

For more information, please contact Mark Cull at the YMCA on 01273 222565 or email mark.cull@ymcadlg.org

You can read the full report at www.ymcadlg.org/WiSEresearch

CSE can be carried out by individuals, by street gangs or by groups. It can be motivated by money or by sexual gratification. But in all cases, there is an imbalance of power - vulnerable children are controlled and abused by adults or by other children.

More advice and information from Sussex Police about CSE can be found here.

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