Helping young women and girls escape gang violence and abuse

We have secured nearly £115,000 to prevent vulnerable young women and girls from being sexually and violently exploited.

A Young Women’s Worker (YWW) will work with girls who are abused or at risk of exploitation by gang members.

Boys and young men involved in gangs often come to the attention of the council, police, and other agencies through public drug dealing, antisocial behavior, or street violence.

Girls make up a third of gang members

While figures show that girls and young women may make up a third of gang members, they may remain invisible to authorities.

The violent and sexual exploitation that young women can experience is often hidden and the resulting trauma can lead to self-harm, substance abuse or suicidal thoughts.

They are often forced, through emotional, physical or sexual exploitation, to store or transport drugs or weapons.

Help girls leave or avoid gangs

The new YWW will focus directly on helping young women not be drawn into gang membership and helping those already involved to leave.

The YWW will offer support on a range of issues, including exploitation, substance use, mental health, education and peer relations.

Councilor Zoe John, Vice Chair of the Council’s Children, Youth and Skills Committee, said: “As more and more young women and girls are at risk of being exploited within gang culture, we so warmly welcome this funding.

“This will allow our young worker to work one-on-one or in groups with vulnerable girls and protect them from sexual exploitation and violence from gang members.”

Drugs, county lines and social media

Much of the serious and violent crime in the city is linked to drug trafficking and county activity, with social media platforms, such as Snapchat, being used in all aspects of the drug supply in Sussex.

We also tackle gang culture as part of the Sussex Violence Reduction Partnership (VRP) which brings together data and expertise from Sussex Police, local authorities, the NHS including hospitals, public health, criminal justice and community organizations.

The VRP identifies and tackles the root causes of serious violent crime in Sussex in order to protect young people and make our communities safer.

Ends

About Rhonda Lee

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