I was interviewed by a journalist today. I wont name them as they are about to do their best to uncover why Gangs and Child sexual exploitation is not receiving the press coverage it deserves across Kent.
I have been asked to do many interviews over the past few months and have tried to be selective with who I talk to. I don’t want people to talk to me just because they want to hear about my story. My story as a child and young person involved in gangs and exploitation is in the past, and whilst I agree that people may find my story interesting and lessons can be learnt from it, my story can also take the importance away from what my message is. That this is still happening. That I was exploited and abused and that this is still happening right under our noses.
The journalist asked me a few questions. They said, “How did I know there were gangs and exploitation in Kent?”. I said I know because I work directly with the children and young people that are affected by it. I know because I see the mental health implications that are associated with it. I know because it’s obvious what is happening.
I asked the journalist this…If we have no big issue with Gangs and exploitation…If this is not something that is happening…then why do we have a task force? Why are things such as Operation Willow in place?
See the thing is, I don’t think that myself or anyone else should have to prove that there is a gang or CSE issue in Kent, or the whole of the UK to be fair. I think that the police, social services, the MPs …who ever…they should have to prove that there is NOT an issue, if that is what is being said.
It’s a bit like the victim blaming epidemic we live. “Why didn’t you speak out?”. “Why didn’t you walk away?” “Why did you put yourself in risky situations?”. These are the kind of questions that Victims of crimes such as exploitation are asked. The owner ship put back on the victim, and in some cases that victim could be a child.
So how about this, instead of the frontline workers, the sexual health workers, the head teachers, the support workers…instead of us having to argue and prove that there is a gang and CSE issue in Kent that is not being addressed…how about the powers that be prove that we are all liars and prove that there is NO problem.
Produce some facts.
How many knife related crimes have there been in Thanet?
How many Gangs are in operation in Kent?
How many girls that are victim of or are at risk of CSE are treated by sexual health practitioners in East Kent?
Why did we have a Kent and Medway gangs’ strategy if we have no gang issue?
Why do we have Operation Willow if we have no CSE issue?
WHY? WHY? WHY?
I said all this to the journalist and they said that if this is true then …
“Why aren’t people speaking out about children being exploited? “
I replied with the only answer I truly have. I don’t know. I guess people are scared. Scared of being held accountable. Scared of losing their jobs. Scared of admitting there is an issue but not being able to come up with a solution. Scared what people will think.
But you know what. That is nothing compared to the fear that our children and young people face day and night knowing that all these things are happening and not very much is being done. Being forced to carry a weapon…that’s scary. Being forced to have sex with people you don’t want to…that’s scary.
Knowing that adults know what’s going on but are not doing all they can to help you. Imagine that. Imagine knowing that the gangs and exploiters could do what they want to some degree and nothing can stop it. That must be scary.
Why are the public not saying more? I don’t know. I guess I can’t answer that. So over to you peeps…tell me
Do YOU think there is a gangs and exploitation in your area? If so…be brave. Say it. Comment on here…on the post…whatever.
Say “Yes…..I live in Kent and there is a gangs issue and not enough is being done” say “Yes…..there are children being exploited in Essex and not enough is being done.
I have said it before and I will say it again.
My name is Kendra Houseman and I live in Kent. We have a Gangs and Child sexual exposition issue and not enough is being done about it. What I do know is that I am trying to do something.
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