POLICE are urging the public to be aware of the signs and to tell someone if they think a child or young person is being sexually exploited.
West Mercia Police and partners are supporting the National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day on March 18 by running a week-long social media campaign and a number of local activities.
Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a type of child abuse which happens when a young person is encouraged, or forced, to take part in sexual activity in exchange for something.
The reward might be presents, money, alcohol, or simply just the promise of love and affection and the young person may have been sexually exploited even if the sexual activity appears consensual.
Warning signs of grooming include unexplained gifts, unexplained changes in behaviour or personality, changes in physical appearance such as weight loss, being absent from school, staying out late, being secretive about where they are going, going missing, being overly familiar with friends that you don’t know and a lack of interest in activities and hobbies.
Parents, carers, and other adults should look out for the warning signs and tell someone if they have any concerns.
West Mercia Police and Commissioner John Campion said “This remains a top priority for me and the force, and the campaign is part of a much wider scope of work to ensure the full weight of the law is brought down on those who commit these horrendous crimes, ensuring that victims have the confidence to seek justice and to ensuring victims are put forward to get the help they need.
“I’d encourage people to back this campaign, and to make themselves aware of the key warning signs, as keeping people safe is the responsibility of all our communities.”
Events and activities will be taking place from March 12 to highlight the ongoing partnership work to tackle CSE across the West Mercia region.
Trust your instinct, if you have concerns, tell someone, call police on 101 or contact a support agency.
Follow #tellsomeone on twitter or visit www.tell-someone.org for more information.