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Make a pledge on child sexual exploitation awareness day

Wolverhampton City Council is joining other councils across the region urging people to make a personal pledge to help tackle child sexual exploitation (CSE).

Together with Dudley, Birmingham, Coventry, Sandwell, Solihull and Walsall councils and West Midlands Police, it is supporting the first national CSE Awareness Day on Wednesday (18 March).

Organised by charity National Working Group, which is dedicated to helping combat CSE, the day aims to encourage everyone to think, spot and speak out against abuse.

On Wednesday, people are asked to write a personal pledge on their hands and then post a photo of it on social media using the hashtag #HelpingHands.

The pledge can be anything, from speaking out about CSE to helping to educate others.

The 7 councils, the police and partner organisations are working together to raise the profile of CSE in the West Midlands and launched the See Me, Hear Me campaign last June.

Through the campaign they hope to protect children at risk by increasing people's understanding of child sexual exploitation and how to spot the warning signs in a child or young person's behaviour that may indicate something is wrong.

They are now calling people across the region to support the national awareness day by making their own personal pledge and posting it on line.

Councillor Val Gibson, Wolverhampton City Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Families, said: "We want to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation, a horrendous crime which has remained hidden for too long.

"The region wide See Me, Hear Me campaign seeks to increase increasing people's understanding of CSE and how to spot the warning signs, and this national day is an excellent opportunity to spread the message further.

"I'd urge people in Wolverhampton to get involved by making a personal pledge and then, most importantly, acting on it. Working together, we can raise awareness of CSE and help protect the children of the West Midlands from abuse."

Experts say the warning signs of CSE include having friends who are older or having secretive relationships with unknown adults, persistent truancy from school or otherwise going missing for periods of time, chronic fatigue, constant calls on a mobile phone or the possession of money or new things.

The campaign website See me, hear me contains information about CSE and how to spot the warning signs, as well as resources for schools and those who work in leisure and hospitality industries, such as hotels, leisure centres and taxi companies.

Stephen Rimmer, West Midlands lead for tackling CSE, said: "Along with pledges to support those children and young people vulnerable to this horrible crime, we can also send out a very strong message to would be perpetrators.

"My pledge is to confront and challenge those who think it is okay to abuse others who they believe they can manipulate. It is absolutely not and you will be held to account for it."

  • released: Friday 13 March, 2015