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25 November 2014, 07:37
A report's found 132 children in Birmingham are vulnerable or have been victims of sexual exploitation.
It follows an investigation by the City Council into fears that grooming rings like those in other parts of the country could be operating here.
Teenage girls in care were found to be the most vulnerable, but the author found there wasn't a culture of Asian men being involved in their exploitation as reported in other places.
Anita Ward, chairwoman of the Education and Vulnerable Children Overview and Scrutiny Committee, said the council was spurred to launch the investigation following child sex scandals across the country.
In the report she said: ``For far too long, child sexual exploitation (CSE) was a hidden issue, but following the recent number of high profile cases across the country the problem has been exposed and we can no longer pretend that it does not exist within our society.''
She said that ``having concluded that if it was happening in areas like Derby, Oxford, Telford and Rochdale, it was in all likelihood happening in Birmingham''.
The report's authors described the abuse they were told about as ``harrowing'' and said that some children are being let down by ``failures'' in the safeguarding services that are meant to protect them.
In one case highlighted in the report, a 15 year-old girl was raped by three men in a local park who filmed her ordeal, but when she tried to speak out no-one believed her because she was seen as a ``troublemaker'' at school.
Her rapists began plying her with drugs, alcohol and money and groomed her so she began to see them as her friends.
But they continued to rape and physically attack her, and she lived in fear that the men would kill her family.
The report's authors said this case is far from unique, and that young victims of sexual exploitation are ``imprisoned'' psychologically by their abusers
They added: ``This report should act as a wake-up call as it is important for everyone to understand that CSE is occurring in Birmingham and can occur within any part of the city or community and to boys as well as girls.''