The regional see me, hear me campaign is encouraging young people and their parents to make themselves aware of how grooming can develop to help safeguard youngsters from this hidden crime.
CSE can affect any child regardless of their gender, social or ethnic background. It is child abuse and can involve 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.
Councillor Val Gibson, City of Wolverhampton Council Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “Child sexual exploitation is a truly horrendous crime and because of the tactics offenders use, young people may not understand they are being groomed.
“We want to raise awareness of how the grooming process develops so they, and the people around them, can spot if they are at risk, and know how to get help.
“Safeguarding children is everyone’s business. We all need to increase our awareness so we can play our part in helping to keep youngsters safe.
“Please visit our campaign website www.seeme-hearme.org.uk for more information and to see what you can do to help protect our children and young people.”
Grooming of a young person can take place in stages over a period from a few days to several years. The early stages can mirror the development of a healthy relationship, but the following signs can help people identify the need to get help.
“The early stages can mirror the development of a healthy relationship, but the following signs can help people identify the need to get help.”
During the initial ‘targeting’ phase the abuser will gain the young person’s trust, start befriending them, and give compliments and gifts. They’ll make the young person feel special, offering protection and testing out physical contact.
Once they’ve established trust, the groomer then asserts themselves as the boyfriend or girlfriend, attempting to mirror a ‘loving relationship’. They will establish a sexual relationship, perhaps introduce the young person to drinks, drugs and pornography.
The abuser may demonise the victim’s friends and family, isolating them. As this turns into the ‘abusive relationship,’ threatening behaviour, physical violence and sexual assaults increase.
Information on the stages of grooming can be found at 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.