People across Wolverhampton are being encouraged to play their part in helping to tackle child sexual exploitation (CSE) by knowing how to spot the warning signs.
The lighter summer nights are encouraging more people out in the evenings and they are being asked to act as eyes and ears – and help the police and the council by reporting any concerns they have about the safety and wellbeing of young person.
The authorities across the West Midlands, including the City of Wolverhampton Council, are working together to raise awareness of CSE and have developed a website at www.seeme-hearme.org.uk. It provides a one-stop shop for information about CSE and how to spot the warning signs, and there is also help and advice for young people, parents and carers, professionals and schools.
Councillor Val Gibson, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: "Thanks to the lighter evenings, more of us are out and about later at night, including groups of young people, and so we are reminding people to make themselves aware of the signs of CSE and what they should do if they have any concerns.
“Preventing CSE is everyone’s responsibility and we all need to increase our awareness of it. I would urge people to visit our campaign website www.seeme-hearme.org.uk to find out more and see what they can do to help protect our children and young people.”
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.
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 have counsellors available online at www.childline.org.uk.