Teenagers should be taught how to spot the signs of child sexual exploitation, according to a top Kirklees councillor.
Retired teacher Clr Kath Pinnock, now Baroness Pinnock of Cleckheaton, said the issue should be included in school work along with awareness of drink and drugs.
The idea was raised at a meeting of the Health and Wellbeing Board where Bron Sanders spoke as chairman of the Kirklees Safeguarding Children Board.
It comes in the wake of cases of abuse in Rotherham, Rochdale and Manchester.
In September Kirklees Council revealed the local picture with 22 young girls at risk of child sexual exploitation (CSE). Half of them live in care.
In Manchester it was said 650 children out of 3,242 reported missing were at risk of being sexually exploited.
Kirklees says it has concerns about missing children, too, with 48 reports of 22 children in care going missing in 2013/14. Not all were at risk of exploitation.
Former Lib Dem leader Baroness Pinnock said: “Following the reports in Rotherham and Manchester there does seem to be a case that there is unidentified exploitation going on in many communities.
“How can we be sure that the Safeguarding Board is able to identify and pick up on this?
“We do a lot of work in schools relating to drug and alcohol awareness. Let us give an equal emphasis on identifying child sexual exploitation and the signs before it gets to the stage where someone is a victim.
“I think it’s in all our interests to try to do it.”
Clr Mohan Sokhal, Labour Greenhead, added: “A lot of people are saying it’s an Asian Muslim community problem. There are some cases but not all of it comes from this one community.”
Mrs Sanders said the issue of CSE was not new and they had been working with the police and supporting victims prior to the Rotherham scandal.
She said: “It’s a really important issue for us and we have done a lot of work in schools.
“It is very much the case that some young people are getting involved in something they don’t recognise as exploitation. So, I agree, awareness is important.
“The nature of the extra publicity means people are starting to recognise that something that happened to them was not okay. It is making the public aware and encouraging them to come forward.”
Mrs Sanders said work relating to CSE covered potential, current and historic victims.
The Health and Wellbeing Board will receive updates from the newly-formed Kirklees CSE Safeguarding Panel, set up in the aftermath of the Rotherham scandal.