A MULTI-agency conference is taking place this week to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation (CSE).

The event will take place on Thursday at Newton Rigg, Penrith, and is an opportunity to provide key information and advice to members of the public around CSE.

People can follow the event via the hashtag #CSECumbria.

Tom Duffin, National Partnerships Director for Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation (Pace), said: “Child sexual exploitation can have devastating impacts on the whole family and it is vital that parents and carers are brought into the picture when it comes to protecting children from this abuse.

“Most sexually exploited children live at home when the abuse starts, but according to a recent YouGov survey only half of parents say they are confident that they would be able to tell the difference between indicators of CSE and challenging teenage behaviour.

“Engaged and informed parents are essential in tackling this abuse.”

Increasingly children are now on social media sites and applications, often unsupervised.

While these communication methods can be a great way for young people to keep in touch with friends, they can also cause problems.

Catherine Witt, Triage Service Manager, Cumbria Children’s Services, said: “Parents need to be aware of some of the tell-tale signs that their child may be subject to sexual exploitation.

“You may also notice your child’s mood changing dramatically and often their relationships change with you.

“If you do have any concerns there are a number of support web sites and help lines where you can talk these things through and decide the best way to support and protect your child.”

The conference is being hosted by Cumbria Constabulary, Inspira and the Cumbria Local Safeguarding Children’s Board (LSCB).

A victim of CSE will also be addressing the conference about her own personal experiences.

Police and Crime Commissioner, Richard Rhodes said: “We must do all we can to safeguard our young people, and it is really important that adults understand the potential risks that they face and to recognise the signs to look out for.”