More than one million parents, carers and young people discovered more about the signs of child sexual exploitation (CSE) during the latest phase of a regional awareness campaign.
A digital media campaign reached 761,000 in just two weeks (Feb 17 to March 3), a further 278,000 people were reached via twitter using #seemehearme and more than 15,000 visited the website www.seeme-hearme.org.uk
In addition more than 4,000 commuters stopped to find out more about this horrific, hidden crime from local authority CSE leads and police at transport hubs in Dudley, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Walsall, Sandwell, Solihull and Coventry between February 20 and 24.
The week of action was the latest from the regional see me, hear me campaign.
Fully endorsed and supported by British Transport Police, there were also posters in bus and train stations, Metro tram stops and on buses travelling around the region.
In Dudley, events were held at Dudley and Halesowen bus stations.
Councillor Ian Cooper, Dudley Council’s cabinet member for children’s services, said:
“This week of action has been a fantastic success reaching more than one million people across the region through social media and online. An additional 4,000 people were engaged with directly at our transport hubs in Dudley and across the region.
“This kind of direct engagement gives a really clear message to the public that organisations are working together to tackle CSE, but we can’t do it alone.
“We need everyone to be aware of the signs of CSE and to know how to get help if they have concerns.
“I would urge all young people, parents and carers 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 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.
Signs can include a young person with an older person who doesn’t appear to be a relative or carer, a younger person looking anxious, distressed or upset and truancy from school.
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
The See Me, Hear Me campaign was launched in June 2014 by Dudley, Wolverhampton, Sandwell, Walsall, Coventry, Birmingham and Solihull councils, along with West Midlands Police, to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation.