11 December 2013
COMMISSIONER for Children and Young People, Patricia Lewsley-Mooney, today welcomed the first steps in the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation.
Mrs Lewsley-Mooney said that today’s call for evidence from the Chair of the Inquiry, Professor Kathleen Marshall was an essential part of making sure the inquiry team hears from everyone who wants to share their experience and expertise.
“Child sexual exploitation is a scourge,” said the Commissioner. “It is something that stains us as a society and causes immeasurable harm to each child and young person who suffers at the hands of abusers.
“I look forward to further engagement with Professor Marshall and her team and with the Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland.”
The Independent Inquiry will be working with the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority, the criminal justice and the education and training inspectorate.
“It is important that all the statutory agencies work together to make this inquiry effective; and that anyone who can assist in any way provides evidence to make sure that as complete a picture as possible is put together,” said Mrs Lewsley-Mooney.
“Above all we must not forget the victims. As lessons are learned and improved processes and procedures are put in place we must keep the victims at the heart of it all, and we must take the time to listen to children and young people and importantly act upon what they tell us.
“As Commissioner for Children and Young People I have previously raised the issues associated with Child Sexual Exploitation and will continue to provide all possible assistance to the inquiry.”
Child Sexual Exploitation
“Sexual exploitation of children and young people under the age of 18 involves exploitative situations, contexts and relationships where young people (or a third person or persons) receive “something‟ (e.g. food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, affection, gifts, money) as a result of them performing, and/or another or others performing on them, sexual activities. Child sexual exploitation can occur through the use of technology without the child‟s immediate recognition, for example being persuaded to post sexual images on the internet/mobile phones without immediate payment or gain. In all cases, those exploiting the child/young person have power over them by virtue of their age, gender, intellect, physical strength and/or economic or other resources. Violence, coercion and intimidation are common, involvement in exploitative relationships being characterised in the main by the child or young person‟s limited availability of choice resulting from their social/economic and/or emotional vulnerability.” (The Department for Children Schools and Families (DCSF) 2009 Guidance)
Children and Young People
For the purposes of the independent inquiry, children and young people should be defined as including all those under 18 years of age, and those up to the age of 21 who have a disability or have left care. (Commissioner for Children and Young People (Northern Ireland) Order 2003