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Child exploitation is abuse. Don't mask the problem

What to look out for

Examples of signs to look out for include:

  • Adults who appear secretive or are trying to hide the fact that they are with a young person
  • Adults befriending young people, including buying them food and drinks
  • Young people being picked up and taken to hotels, particularly at odd times of the day and night
  • Adults who frequently come into premises with different young people
  • Young people who, although with peers, look uncomfortable or under duress
  • Although any child can suffer from sexual exploitation, the advice below highlights children who can be typically vulnerable and some of the warning signs to look out for.

Typical Vulnerabilities

  • Living in a chaotic or dysfunctional household
  • History of abuse
  • Living in residential care, hostel, B&B or being homeless
  • Gang association either through relatives, peers, intimate relationships or neighbourhood
  • Lacking friends from the same age group
  • Attending school or are friends with young people who are sexually exploited
  • Not engaging in education/training or employment
  • Unsure about their sexual orientation or unable to disclose sexual orientation to their families
  • Learning disabilities
  • Young carer
  • Recent bereavement or loss
  • Low self-esteem or self-confidence.

Warning Signs

  • Missing from home or care
  • Physical injuries
  • Drug or alcohol misuse
  • Involvement in offending
  • Repeat sexually-transmitted infections, pregnancy and terminations
  • Absent from school
  • Change in physical appearance
  • Evidence of sexual bullying and/or vulnerability through the internet and/or social networking sites
  • Estranged from their family
  • Receipt of gifts from unknown sources
  • Recruiting others into exploitative situations
  • Poor mental health
  • Self-harm
  • Thoughts of or attempts at suicide.

If you have any concerns that a child you know may be a victim of Child Sexual Exploitation, or you have seen any suspicious behaviour as detailed above, report it by calling 101 or you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. In an emergency or if a crime is ongoing always dial 999. ​​​