The shocking reality of how online gaming can be used by abusers to target and groom young people is highlighted in the latest phase of a campaign to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation.
The hard hitting film from the regional see me, hear me partnership focuses on the warning signs of this hidden crime.
‘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 short trailer will target young people directly via Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, as well as through popular gaming, entertainment and mobile messaging apps they use.
Parents will also be targeted via Facebook and other apps they use and an advert will be going out via Spotify.
The full version of film is available on the campaign website www.seeme-hearme.org.uk while posters will also appear on buses, trains, trams and phone boxes across the region and in Grand Central Station’s washrooms
Councillor Ken Meeson, Cabinet Member for Children, Education & Skills, said:
“Social media and gaming is such a big part of young people’s lives nowadays and it’s important they can enjoy them safely.
“Online grooming can affect both boys and girls and can happen through social media, gaming, chatrooms or other online communication.
“AJ, in this fictional story, was manipulated through online gaming in his own home and later abused and exploited by the man he met.
“Being aware of the warning signs and acting on them early can help prevent abuse happening or escalating.
“We all have our part to play in keeping our children and young people safe, and I would 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.
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