2 minutes reading time (433 words)

Keep eye out for signs of child sexual exploitation

People are being reminded to keep a look out for the signs of grooming and child sexual exploitation (CSE).

The latest phase of the region-wide See Me, Hear Me awareness campaign has gone live, encouraging adults to make themselves aware of how grooming can develop and the key warning signs to help safeguard youngsters from this hidden crime.

A short animation shows an abuser describing how he grooms a girl with gifts, alcohol and affection before exploiting her. He ends by saying, 'the warning signs were there'.

The 30-second clip will target young people directly via Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter and parents through Facebook and Instagram. It will be supported by posters on buses, trams and trains throughout the region, as well as poster sites at Metro stations - all signpost people to the campaign website, www.seeme-hearme.org.uk.

Councillor John Reynolds, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: "More and more people are becoming aware of this hidden crime, but we can't be complacent. It's vitally important everyone knows the warning signs and be able to recognise concerns and take action.

"We all have our part to play in protecting our children and young people from this horrific abuse. Being aware of the warning signs is one of our most effective weapons in tackling child sexual exploitation and acting on concerns early can help prevent abuse happening or escalating.

"Please visit our campaign website www.seeme-hearme.org.uk to find out more. It contains a wealth of information about CSE and the warning signs to look out for, as well as signposting people to help and support."

CSE can happen to anyone, regardless of their gender, social or ethnic background. It is child abuse and can involve perpetrators grooming their victims in various ways, such as in person, via mobiles or online, to gain their trust before emotionally and sexually abusing.

Warning signs can include having friends who are older, persistently going missing, secretive relationships with unknown adults, truancy from school, chronic fatigue, constant calls on a mobile phone and the possession of money or new things.

Anyone who is concerned about the safety of a young person should call West Midlands Police on 101, speak in confidence to Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or in an emergency call 999. Childline also have counsellors available online at www.childline.org.uk. Find out more about child sexual exploitation at www.seeme-hearme.org.uk.

The See Me, Hear Me campaign was launched in June 2014 by Wolverhampton, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall, Coventry, Birmingham and Solihull councils, along with West Midlands Police, to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation.


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