A new interactive online film enabling viewers to choose what happens next is the latest addition to a campaign to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation (CSE) across the West Midlands.
See Me, Hear Me – Figure Out My Story is a fictional drama about a teenage girl at risk of exploitation.
The viewer makes decisions about how her story develops, the choices she makes and how it ends.
It aims to not only help raise awareness of CSE among young people but also be a focus for discussion about CSE between young people, parents, carers, schools and professionals.
The film is available on the regional See Me, Hear Me CSE awareness campaign website www.seeme-hearme.org.uk, a one-stop shop for information, help and advice about CSE.
It provides advice to young people on how to keep safe and a series of moving films raising awareness of sexual exploitation. There are also sections for parents and carers, professionals and schools, while businesses can download materials including resources specifically aimed at supporting the taxi and hotel industry to spot the signs of CSE.
Councillor Val Gibson, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: "This thought-provoking film gets people to think about CSE and, importantly, the signs to look out for.
"CSE is a horrendous crime that 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 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.
"Everyone has a role to play in protecting our children and young people from CSE, and I would encourage parents, carers, schools, businesses and of course young people themselves to take a look at the See Me, Hear Me website where there is a wealth of help, advice and support."
People can find out more information about child sexual exploitation by visiting www.seeme-hearme.org.uk.
Anyone who is concerned about the safety of a young person should call West Midlands Police on 101 or Barnardo’s on 0121 3595333. In an emergency, always call 999. Childline also has counsellors available online at www.childline.org.uk.
The See Me, Hear Me campaign was launched in June 2014 by Wolverhampton, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall, Coventry, Birmingham and Solihull councils, along with West Midlands Police, to raise awareness of CSE.