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Advice centre

Children and Young People

If you are a child or young person and you are looking for advice, you will hopefully find what you need here. We have also put links on these pages to external sites that can provide you with further, more detailed information about a range of topics.

If you are looking for information about internet / cybercrime related issues specifically, please visit our cyber crime page.

Safe Street

If you are under 12 or are looking for advice for primary school age children please visit our website for primary school age children 'Safe Street'.

Safe Street is an interactive game for primary school children which helps to teach them how to stay safe in their community. Please note this game requires flash to be installed and therefore will not work on tablets and mobiles.

Bullying

If you are being bullied there are people that can help you, you are not alone. The most important thing is that you tell someone about what's happening.

  • Tell someone you trust about what is upsetting you – a friend, relative, teacher
  • If you are being bothered by text, contact your mobile service provider to find out how they can help to block the bully. Block the bully online too by checking the website you use for instructions on how to do this
  • Save any evidence of the bullying – such as nasty emails, texts and voicemails, and anything posted online.

If you do not want to talk to someone in person, you can visit one of these websites for advice and information.

Cyber bullying is when someone uses the internet (instant messaging and social media, for example) to deliberately upset someone else. This type of bullying is often an extension of what is happening at school and means that the victim is unable to escape the bullies, even at home.

Children and Young People

Relationships and Abuse

Abuse is not normal and never ok.

If you are in a relationship with someone, you should feel loved, safe, respected and free to be yourself.

There are different forms of abuse. If your relationship leaves you feeling scared, intimidated or controlled, you could be in an abusive relationship.

How to report abuse

If you think you are suffering abuse you can contact the police by dialling 101 or 999 in an emergency.

There are also different organisations so you can speak to someone about these issues freely and confidentially.

For further information please click here.

Sexting

It is easier than ever to share photographs using smart phones and for those photographs to be shared with people who are not your friends.

Under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, possessing or distributing indecent images of a person under 18 is against the law.

So before you hit 'send', stop and think. Would you print this image to pass around school and show it to your mum and dad? The best way to avoid this uncomfortable situation is not to take or distribute any indecent images.

For useful advice on online and mobile safety, visit thinkuknow.co.uk. This site includes a short video on the possible consequences of sexting.

Child Sexual Exploitation

Child sexual exploitation
Child Sexual Exploitation, or CSE as it is known, is the sexual abuse of a child or young person aged under 18 by an adult who involves them in inappropriate sexual activities either with themselves or another person.

The activity often takes place in exchange for money, alcohol, drugs, food, accommodation or presents such as clothing or mobile phones, and victims can be targeted in person or online.

Child sexual exploitation can occur through the use of technology without the child's immediate recognition; for example being persuaded to post images on the internet or using mobile phones without immediate payment or gain.

Violence, coercion and intimidation are common. Involvement in exploitative relationships is characterised by the child’s or young person’s limited availability of choice as a result of their social, economic and emotional vulnerability.

A common feature of CSE is that the child or young person does not recognise the coercive nature of the relationship and does not see themselves as a victim of exploitation.

West Midlands Police supports the regional See Me Hear Me campaign to raise awareness of CSE. Visit the website at www.seeme-hearme.org.uk to read real-life case studies and watch videos which help both adults and young people to be more alert to the risks.

Useful links

Could you be a victim?

For children or young people who believe they may be a victim of sexual exploitation or feel uncomfortable or worried about anything happening in their life, tell someone that you can trust today.

Officers are always willing to listen to you – it doesn’t matter what the crime is, or how minor or serious you think it is. If you feel you can tell us about it, we will take action to bring offenders to justice and also offer you as much support as possible.

The signs of CSE

For parents, guardians, social care and health care professionals, as well as teachers and youth workers, some of the common signs that may indicate a child or young person is being sexually exploited are below (please note this is not an exhaustive or definitive list). You have an important role in recognising the signs and protecting that child or young person:

  1. Unexplained gifts
  2. Expensive belongings - clothes or mobile phones, for example - and habits such as alcohol and drugs which cost money the child is not likely to have access to
  3. Drug or alcohol abuse
  4. Going missing, running away or homelessness
  5. Being absent and truanting from school or showing signs of disengagement or considerable change in performance
  6. Getting into or out of different vehicles
  7. Being spotted at known places of concern
  8. Unexplained changes in behaviour, temperament or personality (e.g. chaotic, aggressive, sexual, mood swings)
  9. Inappropriate sexual behaviour/over familiar with strangers or sending sexualised images via the internet or mobile phones
  10. Association with older men, older people, anti-social groups and other vulnerable peers
  11. Being involved in abusive relationships, feeling intimidated and fearful of certain people or situations
  12. Gang fighting, affiliation with gangs and contact with known perpetrators
  13. Involvement with the police, offending and criminal activity
  14. Changes in physical appearance (losing weight, being malnourished)
  15. Self-harming, demonstrating suicidal thoughts and tendencies, overdosing on substances or eating disorders
  16. Injuries from physical assault, physical restraint or sexual assault
  17. Repeat sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, abortion or miscarriage

If you or someone close to you thinks they may be at risk online from a potential sexual offender, contact police on 101 or seek advice from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP).

Reducing the opportunity for child sexual exploitation

Some of the tactics the force uses to address child sexual exploitation include:

  1. Targeting paedophiles who sexually abuse and groom children and young people online
  2. Tackling offenders who use the internet to obtain and distribute indecent images of children
  3. Managing registered sexual offenders to prevent them from committing further crimes against children online
  4. Delivering educational talks to hotel staff, local school teachers and children’s home managers on how to spot the signs a child may be a victim of CSE
  5. Ongoing awareness training for officers and police staff of the key signs and vulnerabilities of CSE
  6. Close partnership work with local councils, Local Safeguarding Childrens Boards, housing providers, social services, youth services, the voluntary sector and many other organisations to manage known sex offenders and safeguard vulnerable young people
  7. Specialist police officers trained to investigate missing person reports and coordinate activity to locate them - in the case of CSE, those young people who regularly go missing or absent from home or care
  8. Long-term youth engagement to involve vulnerable young people in positive activities, such as sport or voluntary work, alongside police and partner agencies.

Internet safety tips for parents and guardians

The internet is a great educational resource for children, giving them access to a world of information and new experiences.

Oniline safety
However, there are also risks to going online, but if you and your child understand them and can make sensible choices, they can get the most from the internet and stay safe while doing so.

Guidelines to help make your child safer online:

  1. Keep the computer in your family room where you can monitor your child’s activities and spend time online together to show your child proper behaviour and rules
  2. Become more computer literate – get to know the sites your child uses, what type of information they offer and whether there are ways to block out inappropriate material
  3. Help your child to understand some people lie online and it’s better to keep online mates online. They should never meet up with any strangers without an adult they trust
  4. The internet is not a private space – advise your children not to post any pictures, videos or information on their profiles or in chat rooms that they would not want a parent or guardian to see
  5. Never give out personal information online such as your home address, telephone number or child’s school name
  6. Always keep in mind that you leave information about yourself behind as you move through the internet
  7. Some websites collect information called ‘cookies’. Cookies are compiled lists of information that may include your name, address, telephone number and possibly even your credit card number. Find out how to turn off your cookies – contact your internet provider for help if you need it
  8. Never allow a child to arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone they have met online without your permission. If a meeting is arranged, make the first meeting in a public place and accompany your child to the meeting. If in doubt, contact the police
  9. Do not allow your child to respond to messages or bulletin board items that are suggestive, obscene or threatening. Forward a copy of such messages your internet service provider
  10. Do not allow them to access private chat rooms unless you are present
  11. Consider using an online service that has special child accounts with restricted access to chat rooms and the internet
  12. Monitor your credit card bill. Many pornographic internet sites require credit card payments in order to gain access
  13. For more information on staying safe online, visit www.thinkuknow.co.uk

Working in partnership with police, government, the internet and mobile phone industries, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) operates the UK Hotline for reporting criminal online content.
The IWF’s service is free to the general public to help minimise the availability of illegal content and protect internet users. Find out more on their website: www.iwf.org.uk

Online safety for children

Video resources

The NSPCC and ChildLine have produced a range of online safety resources for both children and adults. The videos are mainly aimed at parents with children aged 8-12.

Lucy and the Boy- short animated video highlighting the risks of sharing personal information with strangers online.

I Saw Your Willy- short video, using an example of a boy that shares a picture of his willy, to show the dangers of sharing private images and how quickly such pictures can spread.

Online resources:

Share Aware guide- a guide produced to empower parents to keep their children safe online. It includes conversation starters to help parents discuss online safety and advice on what to do if things go wrong online. For printed versions of this resource, please see below on additional resources. Read more on Share Aware guide.

NetAware- a comprehensive guide for parents on over 50 of the top social networks, apps and games that young people use. It includes key facts for each site, recommended age ratings, and information about safety features. Read more on NetAware.

Talking to your child about staying safe online- advice and tips on how to have effective conversations with your children about an array of online topics, including cyberbullying, online porn, and sharing images and information. Read more on Talking to your child about staying safe online.

Parental controls- information on how parental controls can be used to help keep children safe online. Discusses the benefits of parental controls and gives practical advice on how to put them in place. Read more on Parental controls.

Sexting: advice for parents- information from the NSPCC, explaining what sexting is, what the risks are, and how to talk to your child about the issues. Read more on Sexting: advice for parents.

Online porn- conversation starters for parents to help them discuss online porn with their children. Read more on Online porn.

ChildLine resources:

Staying safe online- a ChildLine page offering tips to young people on online safety. Includes information on posting online, online communities, and online bullying. Read more on Staying safe online.

Online grooming- an advice page, looking at what online grooming is, how it happens, and what you can do to keep yourself safe. Read more on Online grooming.

Sexting- information on what sexting is, what the risks are, and what you can do if someone sends you a picture or asks for one. Read more on Sexting.

Mobile phone safety- an advice page, focusing on how to use your phone safely. It covers what you should do if you are being bullied through your mobile or being pressured to share your phone number. Read more on Mobile phone safety.

Online gaming- ChildLine content, giving advice on how to stay safe when gaming. It discusses voice chat, online bullying, and how to keep a record of abusive messages. Read more on Online gaming.

Online porn- fact page, discussing what porn is, whether it’s normal to look at porn, and how porn makes you feel. It also gives advice on what you can do if you feel under pressure after watching porn, have been caught watching porn, or are concerned that you are watching too much porn. Read more on Online porn.

Zipit- ChildLine’s first ever app, designed to help young people stay in control if they are asked to send a naked picture of themselves. It provides witty comebacks and pictures which enable young people to diffuse the situation and stay safe. It is free to download and available on Android, Blackberry and Apple smartphones. Read more on Zipit.