Parents asked, can you see the signs?

Published Tuesday, 2nd July 2019

Who's controlling your child?

No-one ever thinks their child could become embroiled with drugs, gangs and knives so an information event has been arranged to educate parents to see the signs.

As part of our work to tackle County Lines, the free information event is being held to help educate parents of children aged nine plus, about the signs they need to know to spot such issues and keep their children safe.

Forget stereotypes; any child, regardless of their situation and upbringing can be affected, which is why the information event on Tuesday 9 July has been arranged.

Cllr Anne Jones, cabinet member for children and learning, said: “No parent likes to think of their beloved child getting involved with such criminal activity however, intelligence shows us that there isn’t a stereotype for this type of behaviour. Any and every child is susceptible and gangs are targeting the ‘unlikely’ suspects for that exact reason – they are unlikely to be suspected and caught.

“This free event will give parents information and advice from relevant professionals who work with children involved with these issues every day. They will teach parents what signs to look for and how you can keep your child safe and protected.”

The “See the Signs” campaign was designed by Southend-on-Sea Borough Council in partnership with Essex Police to raise awareness of the issues.

The first stage “Who’s controlling your child?” was launched in October 2018, aimed at parents and was viewed over 485,000 digitally. The second stage was a Christmas themed campaign during December 2018 aimed at recreational drug users called #MerryMuletide: Just a bit of festive fun? This was viewed over 191,000 times.

Cllr Martin Terry, cabinet member for community safety and customer contact, said: “Please bear in mind, this is an issue in every town in the country, it is not specific to Southend any more than it is for anywhere else. We must take it seriously, the risks and harms are well documented. We need everybody, but especially parents, schools and youngsters themselves to recognise the signs of exploitation, whilst raising awareness to the people who use drugs that their behaviour will impact on the lives of young children either directly or indirectly.”

Chief Inspector Neil Pudney, Southend’s District Commander, said: “It takes a community to tackle the issues of knife crime, gangs and drugs.

“We all have a part to play in educating not just young people but ourselves and parents to look out for the key signs that a child may be involved in these crimes or the gang lifestyle.

“This information evening is an excellent opportunity for us all to come together and share that knowledge so that parents know what to be on the lookout for and we can all intervene to divert young people away from this life before it is too late.”

The event is being held at the Civic Centre on Tuesday 9 July between 6.30pm and 8pm. There is free parking at the Civic Centre or Civic Centre East (behind the police station) after 6pm.

Please note the event is not suitable for children to attend as it does include some sensitive and graphic detail. Your child will be receiving similar age-appropriate information at school, if they haven’t done so already. There are no childcare facilities available.

To book your place or for more information, please email us.