Young people in Wolverhampton are being encouraged to look out for signs of grooming and sexual exploitation among their friends in a new campaign launched this week.

Posing the question, 'Do you know what your friend's doing?', the digital campaign highlights key warning signs to help young people identify concerns and get help.

It has been developed in consultation with young people and will be promoted through popular gaming, entertainment and mobile messaging apps, as well as social media and online magazines.

It is the latest phase of the See Me, Hear Me campaign from West Midlands councils, including the City of Wolverhampton Council, and West Midlands Police to raise awareness of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE).

Councillor Val Gibson, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: "Child sexual exploitation is a horrendous crime. Awareness is growing, but it's crucial we reach the young people who may be targeted by perpetrators.

"By delivering the campaign through popular gaming and apps, as well as social media and online magazines we can directly give young people the knowledge they need to help them protect themselves and their friends."

She added: "I would also urge young 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, and also features new material for people to download.

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;.

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

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 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.

  • released: Thursday 4 August, 2016