People in Wolverhampton are being urged to make a personal pledge and help tackle child sexual exploitation (CSE).
Councils across the West Midlands, including the City of Wolverhampton Council, are teaming up with West Midlands Police to support the national CSE Awareness Day tomorrow (Friday 18 March, 2016).
Organised by charity National Working Group, which is dedicated to helping combat CSE, the day aims to encourage everyone to think, spot and speak out against abuse.
And on the day people are being asked to write a personal pledge on their hands and then post a photo of it on social media using the hashtag #HelpingHands. The pledge can be anything, from speaking out about CSE to educating others on the signs of abuse.
The seven West Midlands Councils, along with the police and partner organisations, are working together to raise the profile of CSE in the region through the See Me, Hear Me campaign and website, www.seeme-hearme.org.uk, which aims to increase people’s understanding of child sexual exploitation and how to spot the warning signs.
They include children 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.
Alan Coe, Chair of Wolverhampton Safeguarding Children Board, said: "The sexual abuse of children is a crime. It is exploitative and a misuse of adult power.
"We cannot for one moment be complacent and believe we have got everything right to protect children - instead we must continue to support all communities to identify the signs of abuse and understand how to respond to them.”
Councillor Val Gibson, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, added: “We all have our part to play in stopping this horrendous abuse. The more aware we are of the signs, the greater chance we have to stop the abuse and protect our young people.
“We want as many people as possible in Wolverhampton to get involved. Make a personal pledge, post a photo on social media and then act on what you’ve decided to do.
“Please visit www.seeme-hearme.org.uk to find out more and make your own pledge to help stop this abuse.”
Anyone who is concerned about the safety of a young person should call West Midlands Police on 101, speak in confidence to Barnardo’s on 0121 3595333 or in an emergency call 999.
Childline also has counsellors available online at www.childline.org.uk.
Among those who are doing their bit to tackle CSE are local taxi drivers, who took part in safeguarding training delivered by the City of Wolverhampton Council this week. The mandatory safeguarding awareness training for new drivers first offered in July 2015 is now being rolled out to more than 1,000 hackney carriage and private hire drivers in the city.