We all want to protect the young people in our lives, but it can be difficult to know what’s normal or what we should worry about. As children develop into young adults it is healthy for them to experiment, grow and change, but some changes can be warning signs that they’re getting into danger. Below is a list of behaviours that might indicate that a young person has become a victim of Criminal Exploitation.
- Friendships with new, sometimes older, people and drifting away from old friendships
- A breakdown in family relationships (avoiding family, more arguments etc.)
- Staying out late, acting suspiciously or hiding things
- Changes in how they look and/or dress
- Not looking after themselves (poor diet, lack of sleep, poor hygiene etc.)
- Changes in behaviour and interests
- Being picked up or dropped off by someone you don’t know
- Going missing from home and/or skipping school
- Travelling to new places/ different places
- Using phones/social media more
- Having more than one phone
- Using social media to send inappropriate messages, photos, etc.
- Becoming restless after receiving a message or leaving immediately after receiving a call or text
- Using alcohol and/or drugs
- Finding condoms & Vaseline/lubricant (these might be being used sexually or to wrap drugs)
- Finding bus/ train tickets to unexpected places
- Acting in a more sexual way (sending sexualised images/messages, pornography, being sexually aggressive towards others)
- Unexplained injuries (e.g. cigarette burns)
- Being given gifts such as cash, food, clothing, cigarettes, cannabis etc
- Asking parents/carers for money all the time
- Selling possessions to make money (bikes, clothing, games, consoles)
- An increase in anti-social behaviour and involvement in criminality
If any of these look familiar and you’re worried about a young person, don’t panic. There are a number of organisations that can give you more information and help you to make a decision on what to do next.
If you think a young person is a victim of Child Exploitation you can report this by calling 101.
More information about Child Exploitation and advice about what to do if you suspect this might be happening to someone you know, check out:
PACE – (Parents against child exploitation) a parent’s forum.