Children as young as 11 educated about grooming and sexual exploitation, say Croydon NSPCC
Children as young as 11 and 12 are being referred to NSPCC services in Croydon, where they are educated about grooming and sexual exploitation.
A report published last week by the Office of the Children's Commissioner for England into child exploitation and gangs, found shocking sexual violence is being carried out by children against other children and that rape is seen as "normal and inevitable" in some areas.
NSPCC service manager for Croydon Frances Le Roy, said staff at the centre had dealt with a number of cases linked to gangs and online grooming.
She said: "We work closely with groups in Croydon that work with gangs because we have seen cases to do with a gang situation where a young man wants to be in a gang, but to join in he has to do an initiation that involves sexual exploitation- it is a very complex issue.
"Then there are young people who have met a man somewhere who they are meeting as a "boyfriend", who could then be introducing them to other people and they don't realise that is grooming.
"It is quite hard because when you help them to understand it's quite a lesson, because they think that person loves them."
The centre is currently working with over 30 young people aged between 12 and 19 who attend group and individual sessions that aim to help them understand what sexual exploitation and grooming is, so they can look for the signs and make healthy relationships in the future.
Ms Le Roy said: "A lot of what we deal with is peer abuse and the problem is the normalisation of it. Often they are looking for someone to love them and they think if they do what this person asks they will love them or be their friend.
"Young people may not like what they are doing, but are doing it anyway and when a young person says they know it is wrong but they get used to it-that is so sad.
"This is a big problem in Croydon and it is everyone’s responsibility to look at what is going on. If anyone is concerned or worried about a child they should report it- we all have a responsibility to children and young people."
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