Engage to keep our girls safe

FIVE years after a Lancashire Telegraph investigation revealed the problem of older men grooming young girls for sex, the situation seems as a bad as ever.

And now ‘at risk’ schoolgirls are being given lessons on how to spot controlling, sexually abusive and violent boyfriends.

The fact the scheme is being implemented is a sign of the danger posed by the abusers. It was originally intended for woman who had been abused, and drawn up following of researching of violent prison inmates.

Back in 2005 it was our Keep Them Safe campaign which first revealed how gangs of older men were grooming girls for sex.

Around this time, police, social services and councils joined forces to run Operation Engage.

They now tackle the problem by cracking down on the gangs, and providing help and support to the girls.

Five years ago it may have been thought that tough police action would quickly stamp out the practice.

But, despite the excellent work taking place, the issue seems much more deep rooted than had been thought.

As it stands, Engage is as necessary to day-to-day policing as a unit that investigates burglary and car crime.

And that is why the lessons in schools are such a good idea. They provide another way of reducing the number of incidents.

If it helps one girl spot a potential abuser and escape sexual exploitation, then it will have been well worth while.

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