The shocking reality of how abusers groom young people is the focus of a new campaign to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation (CSE).

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The hard hitting animation from the regional See Me, Hear Me partnership focuses on the warning signs of this hidden crime.

Following the story of a young girl, it shows how those around her, including her teacher, friend and father, notice changes in her behaviour.

It then turns to the abuser who describes how he grooms her with gifts, alcohol and affection before abusing her, adding that 'the warning signs were there'.

The animation can be seen on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter as 30 second clips with the full version available on the campaign website, Type=links;Linkid=3771;Title=See me, hear me;Target=_blank;.

Councillor Val Gibson, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: "Being aware of the warning signs of child sexual exploitation is one of our most effective weapons in tackling this vile crime.

"A change in behaviour may appear to be just normal teenage behaviour, but for some these could be the signs of something far more serious.

"The young person may feel they're in a loving relationship, but the abuser will be manipulating them, drawing them away from their family and friends.

"Child sexual exploitation can affect both girls and boys, and being aware of the warning signs, and acting on them early, can help prevent abuse happening or escalating.

"I would urge people to visit Type=links;Linkid=3771;Title=See me, hear me;Target=_blank; to watch the film in full. The site contains a wealth of information about child sexual exploitation and the warning signs to look out for, as well as signposting people to help and support."

Child sexual exploitation 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 child sexual exploitation 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.

People can find out more information about child sexual exploitation by visiting Type=links;Linkid=3771;Title=See me, hear me;Target=_blank;. 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: Wednesday 8 November, 2017