The shocking reality of how abusers groom young people is the focus of a new campaign launched today (Nov 7) raising awareness of child sexual exploitation.
The hard hitting animation from the regional see me hear me partnership focuses on the warning signs of this hidden crime.
Following the story of a young girl, it shows how those around her, her teacher, her friend and her dad, notice changes in her behaviour.
It then turns to the abuser who describes how he grooms her with gifts, alcohol and affection before abusing her, adding ‘the warning signs were there.’
The animation will go out via YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter as 30 second clips with the full version available on the campaign website www.seeme-hearme.org.uk
Councillor Ken Meeson, Cabinet Member for Children, Education & Skills at Solihull Council, said:
“A change in behaviour may just seem normal teenage behaviour, but for some these could be the signs of something far more serious.
“Making sure people are aware of the warning signs is one of our most effective weapons in tackling this horrendous crime.
“The young person may feel they’re in a loving relationship, but the abuser will be manipulating them, drawing them away from their family and friends.
“CSE can affect both girls and boys and being aware of the warning signs, and acting on them early, can help prevent abuse happening or escalating.
“I would really urge people to 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.
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.
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.
Nick Page, Chief Executive of Solihull Council and regional CSE lead, added:
“This latest animation highlights some of the warning signs which may indicate a young person is at risk.
“Perpetrators are becoming increasingly sophisticated and often victims do not realise they are being groomed and abused.
“Partners are working together to identify and disrupt the activities of those who commit this abuse but we all have a role to play in tackling CSE to help keep our children and young people.
“Please check out our website www.seeme-hearme.org.uk to watch the film and 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.
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