PR’s vital role in tackling child sexual exploitation

As a chief executive of a charity, I hear the narratives of survivors of child sexual exploitation (cse) on a daily basis. I talk to professionals caring for and dealing with the fall out of this horrific crime as well.

It’s a difficult subject for the media to cover but Public Relations professionals can have a great role to play to raise awareness and tackle this problem. Which is why I will be speaking at the CIPR/PRCA Midlands PR Conference in Birmingham this year.

How do you ‘PR’ a subject which is so challenging, when silence contributes to perpetuating the crime, when people are still willing to make jokes about the rape of children and yet would never tolerate in other subject areas of sexuality or crime?

There is much more visibility about the subject now than when NWG started in 2011. We have grown from a few dozen people to a membership organisation of over 14,500 professionals who disseminate across 300 organisations. The BBC tackled the subject head-on with the drama about the Rochdale abuse, fronted by Maxine Peake in Three Girls.

We worked hard with PR agency BakerBaird Communications to create a series of features, articles and content.

The end results included two appearances on Radio4 Woman’s Hour and three slots on BBC5Live, as well as features in The Times Online, the Sun and the Sunday Mirror, with media coverage in regional and local newspapers and radio stations across the UK.

We also run an international CSE awareness day which reaches millions of people across the world.

And we’d like to do even more.

It would be great to hear your views and learn from others’ experiences at the Midlands PR Conference at Birmingham City University this year. Hope to see you there.

Sheila Taylor MBE will be speaking on ‘Harnessing the power of communications to tackle child sexual exploitation’ at the Midlands PR Conference tomorrow (3 April 2019)