A film showing the shocking reality of how abusers groom young people has been nominated for a Royal Television Society (RTS) award.
The hard-hitting animation was created and produced by Spark Media for the regional See Me, Hear Me campaign to raise awareness of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE), and is shortlisted in the RTS Midlands Awards’ short film category. The winners will be announced on Tuesday 20 November.
Focusing on the warning signs of this hidden crime, The Warning Signs Were There follows the story of a young girl, showing how those around her, including 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 that ‘the warning signs were there’.
The animation, which has reached more than five million people, was released 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 Paul Sweet, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “Being aware of the warning signs is one of our most effective weapons in tackling this vile crime. 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.
“Spark Media created a powerful film depicting the hard-hitting reality of how abusers groom young people and highlighting the signs we all need to look out for, and I am delighted it has been shortlisted for this award.
“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.”
Danny Gwynne, director at Spark Media, said: “We’re incredibly proud of the recognition for this film, given how much it means to us and in light of the work and effort that went into it by everyone at Spark Media and the See Me, Hear Me campaign.
“We all wanted to create something powerful but different, that could cut through and deliver its message to those who need to see it, while building awareness of the warning signs of CSE.”
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.
The campaign website www.seeme-hearme.org.uk 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.