People are encouraged to look out for signs of grooming and sexual exploitation in a social media campaign running throughout September.

The regional See Me, Hear Me child sexual exploitation (CSE) awareness campaign is using social media channels to highlight key warning signs to help people identify concerns and get help.

Young people will be targeted with a male and female version of an animation and artwork with the question, 'Do you know what your friend's doing?'.

Starting slowly, the animation flicks through images and words relevant to each stage of a developing relationship including, fun, exciting, danger, threats and abuse. It picks up pace as the situation becomes more out of control, finally asking 'Do you know what your friend's doing?' and linking to the See Me, Hear Me Type=links;Linkid=3771;Title=website;Target=_blank;.

A parental version of the animation is also going out via social media channels. Flicking through images and words including unexplained gifts, change in appearance, secretive, moody, lies, staying out late, it concludes by asking, 'Is this your child?',

Councillor Val Gibson, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: "This latest phase of the campaign is about raising awareness of CSE directly with young people and their parents and carers through social media.

"We want them to know the signs of sexual exploitation so they can identify any concerns and get help.

"Child sexual exploitation is a horrendous crime. Awareness is growing, but it's vital we continue to provide people with the knowledge they need to help protect themselves, their friends or their children.

"I would urge people to check out our website Type=links;Linkid=3771;Title=See me, hear me;Target=_blank; to find out more."

The website is a one-stop shop for information about CSE and how to spot the warning signs, along with help and advice for young people, parents and carers, professionals and schools. 

CSE 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.

Warning signs of CSE 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 Barnardo's on 0121 359 5333 or in an emergency call 999. Childline also have counsellors available online at Type=links;Linkid=3772;Title=Childline;Target=_blank;.  

  • released: Monday 18 September, 2017