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MaidSafe to offer workshop on child sex exploitation

By Chloe Holmwood

People will be better able to identify the warning signs of child sex exploitation – and how to report them – thanks to a new training course.

The workshop is offered by police to members of MaidSafe – Maidstone’s business crime reduction partnership – and runs on Monday, July 31, in the Town Hall.

The course covers the signs to look out for, how victims and offenders can be identified, how perpetrators can pose as someone’s boyfriend, plus the hooks used to attract youngsters.

Nathan and Bethany in Coronation Street
Nathan and Bethany in Coronation Street

The authors behind the initiative point out abusive relationships often begin with children receiving gifts, money and affection for sex.

Warning signs may include an adult behaving in an intimate way with a youngster or who frequently visits restaurants, shops or businesses – each time in the company of a different youngster.

ITV soap Coronation Street has been shining a light on this issue in recent months. Across many episodes, viewers have watched devious Nathan Curtis manipulating and grooming schoolgirl Bethany Platt.

The harrowing plot shows how a headstrong 16-year-old can be blissfully unaware of how her older boyfriend has got her involved her in a sinister sex ring.

A young victim of sexual exploitation. Stock image
A young victim of sexual exploitation. Stock image

Coronation Street has been praised by organisations, including children’s charity Barnardo’s, for realistically showing how a teen can end up in such a dangerous situation.

The MaidSafe course comes four months after fast food workers, bar staff and taxi drivers were given help with spotting the signs of sexual exploitation.

Ali El Hajj, franchisee of McDonald’s stores in Maidstone, said his restaurants see a lot of teenagers and that his staff try to look out for them and try to spot any unusual behaviour or gangs hovering around them.

Maidstone council said it was working with police and holding events to inform the public.

n If you see a young person looking concerned or frightened in the company of adults, you should contact the police on 101, or the dedicated Say Something hotline, anonymously, on 116 000.

Interested MaidSafe members can email maidsafe@onemaidstone.com

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