With the festive season upon us, people are reminded to be aware of a key warning sign that could indicate child sexual exploitation (CSE).
The regional see me, hear me partnership is highlighting signs of this hidden crime in the run up to Christmas to help people identify concerns and get help.
If you’re seeing a child or young person receiving unexplained money or gifts this Christmas, it could be an indication something is wrong.
The partnership will again be featuring its hard-hitting animation ‘the warning signs were there.’ This follows the story of a young girl being groomed by an abuser with gifts, alcohol and affection and illustrates how those around her, her teacher, her friend and her dad, notice changes in her behaviour.
The animation will go out via Facebook and Twitter as a 30 second clip from the dad’s perspective, with the full version available on the campaign website www.seeme-hearme.org.uk
Councillor Ken Meeson, Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Skills at Solihull Council, said:
“At Christmas time we know young people will have new things and be exchanging gifts with one another. However, it’s really important for parents and carers to look out for anything unusual and know where or who these new things are coming from.
“There are other signs which shouldn’t be ignored either, for example skipping school, mood swings, staying out late and being secretive.
“Acting on the warning signs early can help prevent abuse happening or escalating so I’d encourage people to check out our website www.seeme-hearme.org.uk to watch the film in full.
“CSE can affect both boys and girls and we all have our part to play in protecting them from harm.”
www.seeme-hearme.org.uk 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 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 for 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, 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