Knowing the warning signs of grooming and child sexual exploitation (CSE) is the focus of the latest phase of the regional See Me, Hear Me, awareness campaign launched today (Monday 17 September).

Children and young people, parents, carers and professionals are being urged to make themselves aware of how grooming can develop and the key warning signs to help safeguard youngsters from this hidden crime.

A hard hitting short animation has been produced focusing on an abuser describing how he grooms a girl with gifts, alcohol and affection before exploiting her. The perpetrator ends by saying 'the warning signs were there'.

The 30 second clip will target young people directly via Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter as well as through popular gaming, entertainment and mobile messaging apps. An advert will also go out via Spotify.

The message will also be targeted at adults, while posters will also appear on buses across the region and at West Midlands Metro stations, signposting people to the campaign website, Type=links;Linkid=3771;Title=See me, hear me;Target=_blank;.

Councillor Paul Sweet, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: "This latest phase of the See Me, Hear Me campaign highlights some of the warning signs which may indicate a young person is at risk.

"We all have our part to play in keeping our children and young people safe so it's so important everyone makes themselves aware of this horrific crime.

"I would urge people to visit the See Me, Hear Me Type=links;Linkid=3771;Title=website;Target=_blank; 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 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.

Warning signs 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.

Councillor Sweet added: "While more and more people are becoming aware of this hidden crime, it's vital we don't become complacent and we continue to provide people with information to help them recognise concerns and take action."

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 Type=links;Linkid=3772;Title=Childline;Target=_blank;.

  • released: Monday 17 September, 2018