Young people are being reminded how they can help keep themselves safe online this month.
To coincide with national child sexual exploitation (CSE) awareness day on Wednesday March 18, the regional see me hear me campaign is highlighting how online gaming can be used by abusers to target and groom young people.
The hard hitting film ‘Gaming with AJ – the warning signs were there’, follows fictional gaming vlogger AJ, who’s targeted by an abuser.
The perpetrator grooms him online with gaming tips and free gifts to gain AJ’s trust before meeting him and then abusing him.
A powerful short trailer will target young people directly via Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook. It will also be released on digital platforms, primarily targeting gaming sites, while an audio clip will be going out on Spotify.
The full version of film is available on the campaign website www.seeme-hearme.org.uk
Across the region activities will also be taking place to mark the day and raise awareness of this hidden crime.
“Social media and gaming is now such a big part of young people’s lives and we want them to be able to enjoy this without putting themselves at any risk.
“Online grooming can affect both boys and girls and can happen through social media, gaming, chatrooms or other online communication.
“In this fictional story AJ was manipulated through on-line gaming in his own home and later abused and exploited by the man he met.
“It’s vital young people understand the importance of staying safe online and parents are open with our children and talk to them about online dangers.
“We all have our part to play in keeping our children and young people safe and being aware of the warning signs and acting on them early can help prevent abuse happening or escalating.
“Please check out our website www.seeme-hearme.org.uk to watch the film in full. The site 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 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.
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
Notes to editors
CSE awareness day is organised by the national charity NWG Network, which is dedicated to helping combat CSE. The day aims to encourage everyone to think, spot and speak out against abuse.
The See Me, Hear Me campaign was launched in June 2014 by Dudley, Wolverhampton, Sandwell, Walsall, Coventry, Birmingham and Solihull councils, along with West Midlands Police, to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation.