As the festive season approaches, people are asked to be aware of the key warning signs of child sexual exploitation (CSE).
The See Me, Hear Me campaign led by West Midlands Police and councils across the West Midlands, including the City of Wolverhampton, is highlighting this hidden crime in the run up to Christmas so that people can spot the signs and get help.
A child or young person receiving unexplained money or gifts this Christmas could be an indication that something is wrong. This, along with other unusual behaviour such as mood swings, skipping school, being secretive and staying out late, are all signs that parents, carers, schools, professionals and young people should not ignore.
Councillor Val Gibson, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: "During the festive period it's common for children and young people to exchange gifts with their friends, but it's important for parents and carers to look out for anything unusual as this could indicate they may be at risk of abuse.
"We all have our part to play in protecting others from exploitation, so I'd encourage everyone to visit www.seeme-hearme.org.uk to find out more and see what they can do to help protect children and young people."
CSE can happen to anyone, regardless of their gender, culture or 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 of some kind of payment, such as drugs, money, gifts or even protection and affection.
Anyone who is concerned about the safety of a young person should call West Midlands Police on 101 or in an emergency call 999. Childline also has counsellors available online at www.childline.org.uk. People can find out more information about child sexual exploitation by visiting www.seeme-hearme.org.uk.