With Christmas fast approaching, people in Wolverhampton are urged to beware of one of the key warning signs of child sexual exploitation (CSE).

If a child or young person is receiving unexplained money or expensive gifts this Christmas, it could be an indication that something is wrong.

This, along with other unusual behaviour including mood swings, skipping school, being secretive and disengaging from family, are all signs that parents, carers, schools, professionals and young people should not ignore.

CSE is a crime that can affect any child, anytime, regardless of their social or ethnic background. It is child abuse and involves perpetrators grooming their victims in various ways, such as in person, via mobiles or online, to gain their trust before emotionally and sexually abusing them.

It can take place in many forms, whether through a seemingly consensual relationship, or a young person being forced to have sex in return for some kind of payment, such as drugs, money, gifts or even protection and affection.

Councillor Val Gibson, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Young People, said: "It's perfectly normal for many children and young people to exchange gifts with their friends at this time of year, but people should be on the lookout for any unusual activity which could indicate that a child or young person is at risk of sexual exploitation.

"If they have any concerns, they should report them immediately by calling the police on 101 or Barnardo's on 0121 359 5333. In an emergency, they should always call 999. Being vigilant in this way could help protect a child or young person from this horrific abuse."

There is a wealth of help, advice and resources to help protect children and young people on the regional CSE See Me, Hear Me campaign Type=links;Linkid=3771;Title=website;Target=_blank;, a one stop shop for information for young people, parents and carers, professionals and schools. Each audience has its own area, tailored specifically to them.

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.

  • released: Wednesday 16 December, 2015