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All parents are cautious when it comes to the welfare of their children. However, the parents of Holbeck and Beeston in Leeds have a very different level of awareness of the risks.
Here in Leeds, just going to the park or local play area needs to be carefully supervised due to the discarded needles, condoms and sex industry litter.
Prostituted women can be seen stepping into the road to try and flag down motorists and even having sex in the local phone box. All of this during the day when children are watching.
Read the words of some local parents below as we look at how prostitution affects children in Leeds…
“I don’t let my oldest (11 years old) play out. He’s a sweet, sensible lad, but I wouldn’t want to risk him accidentally touching a used needle or condom. I also don’t want him to witness seeing a prostitute looking for business, or one staggering around either drunk or high on drugs. These kind of situations are always a risk, if I’m there or not, however if I am there, I know how to deal with these situations, an 11 year old would not, and should not know how to deal with this. So everywhere he goes, I’m always there with him, and I’m genuinely afraid of not being there.
When I visit family in different parts of leeds, I feel much more comfortable letting him be outside, playing with friends etc. But in this part of leeds, he sadly is missing out on this part of childhood.
We used to walk to school, but unfortunately witnessed countless girls being picked up and dropped off, so we now drive to school every day, simply because I don’t think children should have to witness this kind of thing in their day to day lives.”
“I have had to explain to two 6 year olds about prostitutes. How does one explain to their primary school aged children about these women selling their bodies? We also can’t use the park because of all the needles and other paraphernalia strewn about.
We have no other option but to walk and I am constantly on my guard. They’ve also witnessed people openly taking drugs on the benches while walking home from school. This is not a life that any child should have to face.”
“We are constantly seeing condoms, wrappers and some needles whilst out and about and I don’t let him run around as much unless I have checked the surrounding area! He is 4, he should be able to run where he wants and not worry about coming across things like this. Also we see prostitutes around his school at various times of the day and around the local area, he’s now noticing them more and asks why they don’t have clothes on or why they are trying to stop cars!”
“I appreciate that my experiences are nowhere near the same magnitude as the local residents but my experiences just show how it affects the wider areas also. I’m in Beeston but I travel with my kids through Holbeck on a near daily basis. I have to tell my girls we cannot visit the park they are so desperate to play on… that the women trying to flag my car down don’t need help… that the women are dressed the way they are because they are going to a party. I am constantly lying to them to protect their innocence and being the “bad guy” for saying that they can’t play on the park. I hate it and mine are minors I really don’t know how residents cope with it all so close to home.”
“My daughter doesnt play out. She has been called names and even had a death threat. ( the police were informed) I’m scared to walk my dog as I have had the pimps have a go at me coz im putting customers off. I have had to explain to my daughter about things she shouldnt know about. Im quite lucky now as I dont get that much. However the school she attends has had to put a mesh fence up as they were finding needles and human waste and condoms on the school field. She has to walk under the fly over and there is always all sorts about. I dont go to the park anymore. Why would you? Its awful. I dont use any local shops, I would rather drive somewhere else or go without as I dont want to be anywhere near that side of the park. Its gutting to see what’s happened over the years to Holbeck.”
“My daughter was followed home from school by a man making rude comments and trying to touch her. She is now 18 and has been approached after going to the cash machine at Kasa and asked for money by one of the women. She may be 18 and now works part time but I no longer want her to walk home after work and we now pay for taxis.”
“A group of children playing out after school saw a couple having sex in the phone box!”
“I won’t use the park with my 2 children. I worry setting off at 7.30 on a morning walking the streets with my 2 kids. We see girls with practically nothing on drinking strong lager and flagging cars down while we’re stood waiting for a bus on a school morning. I use the bus stop that has most CCTV surrounding it as I don’t feel safe stood at others. We see condoms, packets of lube & needles on a daily basis. I don’t even let my 8 year old play in my fenced garden because of the vulgar behaviour by some of the girls out side my local shop. I actually hate living in holbeck and when summer comes around I think it gets worse. Men scouting the area looking for working girls… I won’t wear my shorts or a skirt in fear I’ll be mistaken for a working girl!”
Prostitution affects children in Leeds. Do you feel this is acceptable? Add your own experiences of living near the “managed approach for prostitution” in the comments section below…