Scheme to help reduce abuse of teenagers

A PROGRAMME that aims to help reduce the risk of looked after young people aged between 14 and 18 in West Sussex being in abusive relationships or sexually exploited is running throughout August and September.

The Youth Freedom Programme aims to help young people recognise abusive behaviour, non-abusive behaviour and the beliefs abusive people hold.

It will also encourage young people to explore what constitutes a meaningful relationship and how to manage situations that are unsafe.

The programme has been developed by:

· The Worthing Partnership, which works with organisations that support looked after children.

· West Sussex County Council.

· Worthing Women’s Aid charity.

· Sussex Community NHS Trust.

· Sussex Police.

· West Sussex Youth Offending Service.

· CRI (Criminal Reduction Initiatives).

The programme has been funded with a grant from Worthing County Local Committee Community Initiative Funding, which is money it receives from the County Council to support organisations that their enhance their neighbourhoods.

Committee Chairman Bob Smytherman said: “For some young people, abusive relationships have become customary and sometimes learnt.

“The programme will promote meaningful relationships’ and healthy ways of relating to others in a way that will safeguard a person’s future wellbeing.”

“We are supporting this summer initiative because looked after young people are one of the most ‘at risk’ group in society.

“NSPCC figures for 2010, for example, show 58% of looked after children in England and Wales became looked after because of abuse or neglect at home.”

This was underlined at a reason forum held by West Sussex County Council and Brighton and Hove City Council. It heard that recently released statistics showed that 50% of sex workers, 50% of prisoners in England and Wales under 25 and 80% of all Big Issue sellers had been in the care system.