But one day, he asked me to be nice with to his other older mates - he wanted me to do sexual things and I went along with it ‘cos he was my friend as he’d bought me all the nice stuff.

Names and other details have been changed to protect identities

JONNY'S STORY

I thought he was my friend but he wanted more than just friendship...

 

 “I am 14 and things weren’t great at home, my mum and dad were in the process of splitting up and it wasn’t nice to be around them, so I simply wouldn’t go home. I’d hang around the streets and meet new friends.

 

One of my new friends was Rob; he was 50 and much older than me, but really sound. He totally got me and understood what I was going through; he even offered to let me stay at his when things were bad.

 

Once I even stayed at Rob’s instead of going to school then my mum reported me missing to the police - she so didn’t understand that I just didn’t want to go home any more.

 

Whereas Rob would be really kind to me, buying me new clothes, topping up my mobile and even letting me drink alcohol. He even brought some of his other older mates and some other lads my age around to take drugs.

 

But one day, he asked me to be nice with to his other older mates - he wanted me to do sexual things and I went along with it ‘cos he was my friend as he’d bought me all the nice stuff. He also got nasty and threatened me and my family if I didn’t go along with what he wanted.

 

It hurt and I felt ashamed and dirty. I was angry and upset.

 

Things got bad at school then too my behaviour became violent and my temper was short. I wouldn’t turn up and wouldn’t go home at night either. I then got excluded.

 

Eventually, through my mum reporting me missing again, I ended up with a social worker and a designated youth worker I began to realise that I had been taken advantage of, I thought he was my friend but he wanted more than just friendship.

 

I slowly started to stay at home more and stop hanging round the streets; even though mum and dad had split up they were both very supportive and didn’t blame me. I also completed my youth offending programme for anti-social behaviour and am back at school on an educational placement.

 

Life is better now and I can see a future for myself, something at the time I didn’t think I’d ever get.”