Police teamed up with children’s charity Barnardo’s to raise awareness of the warning signs of child sexual exploitation (CSE).
Assemblies were held this week at Castleford Academy as part of a campaign to help youngsters stay safe.
PC Richard Baker, of Castleford neighbourhood police team (NPT) and Kevin Robinson, of Barnardo’s, spoke to children in all year groups at the school on Ferrybridge Road.
PC Baker said: “The warning signs are things like older people, maybe in their 20s or 30s, trying to have relationships with young teenagers who are 13 of 14.
“People should look out for things like them buying children gifts or contacting them through social media if they are a complete stranger.
“It’s surprising that so many people don’t know what CSE stands for. We are raising awareness of it so people can spot the warning signs.”
PC Baker said youngsters should be vigilant on the internet and take care what information about themselves was publicly available on social media websites like Facebook and Twitter.
He said: “The internet is a massive part of it for grooming because people can do it so much more easily online.”
Assemblies at other schools are planned, and a parents evening is being organised to raise awareness of CSE among adults.
PC Baker said: “We don’t want to alarm people because CSE is not a specific problem for Castleford or the Wakefield area.
“But people need to be aware that it’s out there.
“There are various ways parents can spot the signs, like if children are coming home with gifts or if they see changes in their children’s behaviour.”
The school assemblies were part of a wider campaign by West Yorkshire Police to prevent CSE.
Police have warned that grooming of youngsters can happen in many forms, including social media chat room, via mobile phone or in person.
Police said they monitored internet sites and could take action like seizing computers and mobile phones if there was evidence of CSE.
For more information about spotting the signs of CSE log on to www.westyorkshire.police.uk/help-advice
Police said people should call them on 101 if they were concerned about CSE, or dial 999 if it was an emergency.