"From the training I learnt that it could happen to any child, so please don't think it's only a certain type of child that would get caught up in it!"
Teenage gangs and child exploitation are the focus on Tammy's latest blog, following our Families and Wellbeing Officer attending a workshop on the dangerous matter last week…
"I've been learning more about youth anti-social behaviour, child exploitation and county lines. Really serious topics that are out there and could put our young people at risk.
That said, its been really encouraging seeing so many influential people discussing the issues and sharing warning signs so that we can identify those at risk earlier.
On Wednesday I attended a training session regarding the above but a large portion of the day involved county lines … so what are county lines??
'County Lines' is a term used when drug gangs from big cities expand their operations to smaller towns, often using violence to drive out local dealers and exploiting children and vulnerable people to sell drugs. These dealers will use dedicated mobile phone lines, known as 'deal lines', to take orders from drug users.
Heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine are the most common drugs being supplied and ordered. In most instances, the users or customers will live in a different area to where the dealers and networks are based, so drug runners are needed to transport the drugs and collect payment.
Attending the training were representatives from schools, Early Help, the Police and Local Authorities who all have a remit to ensure our young people are safe and can live in a safe community.
So what are a few of the warning signs that a child could be getting exploited?? Changes in behaviour, changes in friendship groups, suddenly having more money or wearing new clothes and shoes and truancy (there are many more).
From the training I learnt that it could happen to any child, so please dont think its only a certain type of child that would get caught up in it, it can happen gradually over a period of time, gradually gaining the trust of the child until they do what is wanted. Scary really … children are so vulnerable!
For more information on child exploitation, please see The Children's Society Website."