Anyone who’s been following the discussion that developed in the thread under Polly’s recent post – It doesn’t make it all right – might be interested to know that the Department for Education has published its action plan on tackling child sexual exploitation today:

Tackling child sexual exploitation action plan

And here’s a link to the Guardian’s write up of it – Child sex exploitation to be tackled by government – which I link to here because it includes these absolutely key observations from Anne-Marie Carrie, chief exec of Barnardo’s

“Anne-Marie Carrie, chief executive of children’s charity Barnardos whose campaign Puppet on a String informed much of the action plan, welcomed the move but said there had to be a huge shift in culture and attitudes so that the victims of grooming were not seen as somehow complicit in their abuse.

Particular emphasis had to be given on protecting children in the care system and councils had to work together to ensure children were not being trafficked across county boundaries, she said. “If we start by recognising the size and the scale of this problem it is the first step to recognising it as a child protection issue that is happening everywhere in the country.

I’ve had a read through the action plan this afternoon, and I have to say I’m really impressed with it. There seems to be a real determination on the part of this government to actually do something about what is a hugely disturbing and growing issue in this country, one that for far too long now local councils and other statutory authorities, for whatever reason, have been doing their best to ignore.

The plan covers all aspects of child sexual exploitation, from the initial grooming stages, looking at vulnerabilities and warning signs, to taking cases through the criminal justice system and exploring ways of making that process less traumatic for survivors, and then to the aftermath and the need to ensure that survivors of child sexual exploitation have support and access to both statutory and voluntary services for as long as they need.

Anyway, if you’ve got time have a read of it. I’ll be interested to know what you think.