A campaign to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation (CSE) is taking to the roads and the airwaves.

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The regional See Me, Hear Me campaign will feature on buses travelling across the West Midlands as well as on radio over the coming weeks to raise the profile of this abuse crime and help keep children safe.

Featuring the message 'Memories last a lifetime... Everyone has memories of their first love, but for some they won't be happy ones', it aims to highlight the horrific crime and its lifelong impact on victims.

People will be directed to the campaign website Type=links;Linkid=3771;Title=See me, hear me;Target=_blank; for information on how to spot the warning signs of CSE and what to do if you are concerned about a child or young person.

The site also features educational films to raise awareness of CSE, along with campaign posters for individuals and organisations to download and display.

The campaign was launched in June by Dudley, Wolverhampton, Sandwell, Walsall, Coventry, Birmingham and Solihull Councils, along with West Midlands Police and other partners, to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation.

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, Wolverhampton City Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Families, said: "Child sexual exploitation is a horrific crime carried out against some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

"The safety and wellbeing of children is a top priority for the council, and we are working together with our partners across the West Midlands to raise awareness of CSE.

"Preventing CSE should be everyone's responsibility. And I'd urge anyone concerned about a child or young person to speak out before it's too late.

"Through this campaign we want to make more people aware of how to spot the warning signs that a child or young person is being exploited, and what they should do if they are concerned about an individual.

"By being vigilant and knowing the warning signs to look out for, we can all help to tackle this abuse and keep our children safe."

There are a number of warning signs people may spot in a child or young person's behaviour that may indicate something is wrong.  These 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.

Stephen Rimmer, West Midlands lead for tackling CSE, said: "Sexual exploitation of children and young people thrives on ignorance, manipulation and vulnerability. No one in the West Midlands should suffer this crime, and the bullies, abusers and perpetrators need to be held to account.

"This campaign will help ensure that we all understand the threat - right here right now - and what to do about it when we see it."

Anyone who is concerned about the safety of a child 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 has counsellors available online at Type=links;Linkid=3772;Title=ChildLine;Target=_blank;.

People can find out more information about child sexual exploitation at Type=links;Linkid=3771;Title=See me, hear me;Target=_blank;.

  • released: Monday 5 January, 2015