REACH (Reducing Exploitation and Absence from Care or Home)
REACH is a specialist service which supports young people up to 17 years old, who either run away or who may be at risk of, or experiencing child sexual exploitation (CSE).
The REACH team includes specialist youth workers and social workers who work directly with young people to help them recognise risks and keep themselves safer. REACH understands that running away and CSE are both difficult subjects for young people to talk about. Workers spend time with young people talking about the things that worry them and move at the young person’s pace.
What we do:
- help young people explore what makes a healthy and equal relationship
- raise young people’s awareness of CSE, what might make them vulnerable and how to spot signs of grooming
- work with young people around sexual health issues
- support around online safety
- encourage young people to think about risks and ways in which they can keep themselves safer
- support other professionals to work with young people who may be vulnerable to CSE
- signpost to other support services if additional support needs are identified.
- meet with young people after they have been missing to give them space to talk about their experience and why they ran away
- provide short-term one-to-one support to explore the potential risks of running away and to think about ways in which the young person can keep themselves safer
- link the young person to other services if additional support needs are identified
- Information for professionals
What is CSE?
Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is an illegal activity by people who have power or influence over young people. It is a form of sexual abuse in which a young person is manipulated into taking part in sexual acts. It can happen face-to-face, as well as online or over a mobile phone.
The young person may not recognise what is happening because the abuser makes them think they are in a relationship and are special. CSE can also happen as a result of violence, threats or intimidation. Therefore it is important that professionals don’t rely on the young person disclosing their abuse in order to identify that CSE is taking place.
CSE can happen to anyone, regardless of their gender, age, ethnicity or background,
CSE is not always easy to spot as the warning signs can often be confused with other difficulties the young person is experiencing. These are some of the main indicators of CSE (although it is not an exhaustive list):
- Going missing or absent for periods of time, or regularly returning home late without reasonable explanation
- Regularly missing school
- Being secretive about where they are and who they are with
- Secretive use of the internet
- Being in contact with older people online that are not part of their usual peer network
- Having unexplained new possessions, for example a mobile phone
- Having older boyfriends or girlfriends
- Isolation from peer group, family and friends
- Drug and alcohol misuse
- Displaying inappropriate sexualised behaviour, including how they dress
- Mood swings or changes in behaviour
- Changes in physical appearance such as weight loss or appearing tired all of the time
- Having unexplained injuries
- Frequent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or unwanted pregnancies
Who can I speak to?
If you are worried about a child or young person, the first thing you should do is speak to someone at the MASH (Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub) on 0345 155 1071 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and give as much information as you can. If you have immediate concerns about a young person, please call the police on 999.
Support the campaign
A key step in protecting young people from CSE is to raise awareness amongst young people, parents/carers and professionals. Below are links to key online information and leaflets about CSE. Please distribute this information within your agency and consider handing out leaflets to young people or parents/carers that you are working with.
Devon Safeguarding Children Board (DSCB)
Devon Threshold Tool
Working Together to Safeguard children (CSE guidance)
Stat Guidance on missing
CSE indicator tool
National CSE Strategy (DoH)