Parents, carers and teachers are being reminded to look out for signs of grooming and sexual exploitation among young people.
The regional see me, hear me campaign is encouraging adults to make themselves aware of how grooming can develop and the key warning signs to help safeguard youngsters from this hidden crime.
CSE can happen to anyone, regardless of their gender, social or ethnic background. It is child abuse and can involve perpetrators grooming their victims in various ways, such as in person, via mobiles or online, to gain their trust before emotionally and sexually abusing.
Warning signs can 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.
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.
Information about the warning signs is available at the campaign website www.seeme-hearme.org.uk . This 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.
Nick Page, chief executive of Solihull Council and regional CSE lead, said:
“More and more people are becoming aware of this hidden crime but it’s vitally important everyone knows the warning signs so they are able to recognise concerns and take action.
“We all have our part to play in protecting our children and young from this horrific abuse.
“I would urge all young people, parents, carers and teachers to visit our campaign website www.seeme-hearme.org.uk to find out more and see what they can do to help protect our children and young people.”
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 www.childline.org.uk
People can find out more information about child sexual exploitation by visiting www.seeme-hearme.org.uk