NEVER giving out personal information and not meeting up with anyone you have met online – those are just some of the pieces of advice being handed out to youngsters across the region as part of the child sexual exploitation campaign.
The see me, hear me campaign is encouraging young people to make themselves aware of how to stay safe online and avoid risky or dangerous situations.
The advice includes never giving out personal information, understanding the internet makes it easy for offenders to ‘hide’ behind fake profiles, never meeting up with anyone you have met online and also encourages young people to consider not posting any pictures or videos online that may make them vulnerable.
Parents are encouraged to talk openly to their children about their online activity and help them understand what is safe and unsafe.
This includes making use of parental controls and limiting who young people can speak to via online gaming.
Coun Ken Meeson, Solihull Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Skills, said: “The internet is a great resource for young people, however, with social media and the internet becoming an increasing part of young people’s lives and a hub for interaction with peers they may be vulnerable to being targeted by those who wish to harm them.
“By giving young people the information about how to stay safe online and encouraging them to share it with their friends we can stop the perpetrators in their tracks.
“Preventing CSE is everyone’s responsibility and I would urge people to visit our campaign website www.seeme-hearme.org.uk to find out more.”
West Midlands councils and West Midlands Police are working together to raise awareness of CSE across the region and this latest advice about online safety follows the conclusion of a recent court case.
Last week five men were jailed for a total of 42 years after being convicted of serious sexual offences against young girls.
The gang had used social media over a period of months to contact the teenagers and groom them before arranging to meet them with the promise of gifts and shopping trips.
Online grooming can affect both boys and girls and can happen through social media, gaming, chatrooms or other online communication.
It can take a number of forms and could see children being manipulated into sharing indecent images or agreeing to meet someone wishing to sexually exploit them.
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
For more on child sexual exploitation visit www.seeme-hearme.org.uk