Report suggests sexualisation of children contributing to child exploitatation
A report suggests that children are being exposed to sexually explicit material via music videos and the internet, which may be escalating abuse cases. It states in some parts of Manchester the behaviour is becoming normalised.
It was in 2012 when nine men of Asian ethnicity were arrested for grooming young girls with alcohol, drugs and gifts before forcing them into sexual acts with various men. Controversy arose when it was stated the problem was not dealt with due to “political correctness”.
The independent report by Ann Coffey, Labour MP for Stockport, was commissioned by Tony Lloyd, the Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner.
Home secretary Theresa May describes the findings as “shocking”.
Ms Coffey said, “My observations will make painful reading for those who hoped that Rochdale was an isolated case. This is a real and ongoing problem.
“I have been concerned about the number of people who have told me that in some neighbourhoods child sexual exploitation had become the new social norm.
“This social norm has perhaps been fuelled by the increased sexualisation of children and young people and an explosion of explicit music videos and the normalisation of quasi-pornographic images.
“Sexting, selfies, Instagram and the like have given rise to new social norms and changed expectations of sexual entitlement, and with it a confused understanding of what constitutes consent.”
The report claims that we must shift attitudes away from victim blaming where children are held responsible for their own exploitation.
Former victim Nicola Pomfrey was exploited at age 14 and states the men responsible controlled all aspects of her life, “It felt like we were friends at first, he kept buying me food and cigarettes. Then it turned into a relationship.
“But as time went on I felt like I was trapped, there was no-one I could turn to and I became isolated from friends and family.
“I was vulnerable, I needed the attention and I got it from the wrong place.
“At the time I didn’t feel like telling the police, or a social worker or a teacher would do any good. I suppose I didn’t think they would believe that I was a victim.”
Theresa May revealed her disappointment at the failings of authorities to protect these children. She announced a public consultation would be held to determine whether teachers, doctors and other officials should have a duty to report any suspicions, or face prosecution.
Chief executive of Oldham-based charity Keep Our Girls Safe, Hayley Harewood stated, “It is true that in some areas child sexual exploitation is normal. It is often the first experience many girls have in terms of a relationship.
“On most occasions the girls don’t realise what’s happening to them until it is too late and they are trapped.”
The report is titled Real Voices – Child Sexual Exploitation In Greater Manchester. It requests a serious change in handling the issue led by young people, which recognises that the justice system and children’s services alone cannot succeed in protecting children.