PARENTS of children who are being groomed for sexual exploitation are receiving specialist help from the first parent officer in the country.

Lindsay Dalton, from the Coalition for the Removal of Pimping, or CROP, works within the Engage team to specifically target parents.

She said one of the challenges was often getting parents to recognise signs and direct their anger at the groomer rather than their child which causes family breakdowns.

Lindsay, in her parent officer role has worked on 90 cases and currently has 25 active cases where she is offering low to high level support to families.

She revealed she had dealt with one case where parents of a 10-year-old girl were being for exploitation.

Lindsay said: “Just as the children who are being groomed get a distorted perspective the parents do too because they don’t fully understand.

“Their child will say they want to be with the groomer and want to go with them.

“In my role I help parents understand that this turmoil can occur from the child as this that can lead to a family breakdown.

“A lot of parents believe and feel they are to blame for what has happened and we have to prevent this.”

Engage is a multi-agency initiative to safeguard vulnerable youngsters in East Lancashire. It was launched around the time the Lancashire Telegraph’s Keep Them Safe campaign uncovered the problem of gangs of older men grooming girls for sex in 2005.

Voluntary organisation CROP teamed up with Operation Engage team as it works to end the sexual exploitation of children and young people by pimps and traffickers.

Vulnerable parents are helped by the group once a referral has been made to the Engage team.

Lindsay said: “There are a lot of issues in Blackburn around children being exploited but there was nothing in place for parents in the safeguarding process.

“Sexual exploitation crosses all economic boundaries but a lot of children come from disadvantage backgrounds.

“The group sessions show other parents that sexual exploitation affects all spectrums of classes."