The shocking reality of a how online gaming can be used by abusers to target and groom young people is highlighted in the latest phase of a campaign to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation (CSE).
Gaming with AJ – The Warning Signs Were There, a hard-hitting film from the regional See Me, Hear Me partnership, focuses on the warning signs of this hidden crime.
The film follows a fictional gaming vlogger, AJ, who is targeted by an abuser. The perpetrator grooms AJ online with gaming tips and free gifts to gain his trust before meeting him and then abusing him.
A short trailer will target young people directly via Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, as well as through popular gaming, entertainment and mobile messaging apps they use.
Parents will also be targeted via Facebook and other apps, with an advert also going out via Spotify. The full version of film is available on the campaign website www.seeme-hearme.org.uk<http://www.seeme-hearme.org.uk> while posters will also appear on buses, trains, trams and phone boxes across the region.
Councillor Paul Sweet, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “With social media and gaming now being such a big part of young people’s lives, it’s important they can enjoy them safely.
“Online grooming can affect both boys and girls and can happen through social media, gaming, chatrooms or other online communication.
“In this fictional story AJ was manipulated while gaming online in his own home, and later abused and exploited by the man he met.
“We all have our part to play in keeping our children and young people safe and being aware of the warning signs and acting on them early can help prevent abuse happening or escalating.
“I would urge people to check out our website www.seeme-hearme.org.uk<http://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.”
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.
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<http://www.childline.org.uk>.
People can find out more information about child sexual exploitation by visiting www.seeme-hearme.org.uk<http://www.seeme-hearme.org.uk>.
The See Me, Hear Me campaign was launched in June 2014 by Wolverhampton, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall, Coventry, Birmingham and Solihull councils, along with West Midlands Police, to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation.