Worried about your child?

Child sexual exploitation is a form of child abuse and is against the law.
The reasons why young people can be vulnerable to sexual exploitation can be due to a number of factors including low self-esteem and a poor self-image.

Vulnerabilities are identified and targeted by the abuser, whether the young person is living with their family, looked after, away from home or they have run away. In a bid to gain their trust, abusers then groom the young person.

The people involved in this type of abuse aim to drive a wedge between you and your child, closing down the normal channels of communication and emotional bond between you, so it is very important to recognise the warning signs that your child may be a victim of, or at risk of sexual exploitation.

There are no stereotypical victims of CSE, male and females can be a victim of CSE, but the below warning signs are indications that a child may be being exploited:

  • Regularly missing from home or school and staying out all night
  • Change in behaviour – becoming aggressive and disruptive or quiet and withdraw
  • Change in physical appearance – new clothes/hair style/more make up as well as cuts and bruising
  • Unexplained gifts or new possessions such as clothes, jewellery, mobile phones or money that can’t be accounted for
  • Increase in mobile phone use or secretive use
  • A significantly older ‘boyfriend’ or ‘friend’ or lots of new friends
  • Spending excessive amounts of time online or on their mobile and becoming increasingly secretive about this activity
  • Sudden involvement in criminal behaviour or increased offending
  • Sexual health problems, repeat sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy or terminations

Technologies such as mobile phones and the internet mean that grooming may occur without the child’s permission or without the child even recognising that they are being exploited; for example through being persuaded to post sexual images over the internet or through mobile phone images.

Other useful resources

For more information about child sexual exploitation visit the following organisation’s websites. There are many other organisations that provide help, support and further information:

Barnardo’s     NHS     APP College of Policing      CEOP     Catch 22     Sefton L     Knowsley    NSPCC     NWG Network    Wirral     Stop CSE     Liverpool     PACE     St Helens

 

Watch this NSPCC video about child grooming

Tips to keep your child/young person safe

  • Talk to your child or the child in your care about healthy and risky relationships
  • Encourage your child to tell you which websites they’re using and ask them to show you how they work
  • Teach your child to be very careful to befriend and communicate with only trusted people that they know
  • Assure them that it’s OK to come to you or another trusted adult if they feel threatened by or uncomfortable about something they have seen or done on a social networking site/instant messaging service

Child grooming

Childline defines grooming as when: “Someone builds an emotional connection with a child to gain their trust for the purposes of sexual abuse or exploitation.”

Grooming can take place online or in the real world; by a stranger or by someone they know.

Groomers may be male or female. They could be any age.

Many children and young people don’t understand that they have been groomed, or that what has happened is abuse.
Childline* outlines below how grooming happens both online and in the real world and how groomers manipulate young people to control them:

How grooming happens

Grooming happens both online and in person. Groomers will hide their true intentions and may spend a long time gaining a child’s trust. They may also try to gain the trust of the whole family so they can be alone with the child.
Groomers do this by:

• pretending to be someone they are not, for example saying they are the same age online
• offering advice or understanding
• buying gifts
• giving the child attention
• using their professional position or reputation
• taking them on trips, outings or holidays

Using secrets and intimidation to control children
Once they have established trust, groomers will exploit the relationship by isolating the child from friends or family and making the child feel dependent on them. They will use any means of power or control to make a child believe they have no choice but to do what they want.

Groomers may introduce ‘secrets’ as a way to control or frighten the child. Sometimes they will blackmail the child, or make them feel ashamed or guilty, to stop them telling anyone about the abuse.

Online grooming
Groomers can use social media sites, instant messaging apps including teen dating apps, or online gaming platforms to connect with a young person or child.

They can spend time learning about a young person’s interests from their online profiles and then use this knowledge to help them build up a relationship.

It’s easy for groomers to hide their identity online – they may pretend to be a child and then chat and become ‘friends’ with children they are targeting.

Groomers may look for:

• usernames or comments that are flirtatious or have a sexual meaning
• public comments that suggest a child has low self-esteem or is vulnerable

Groomers don’t always target a particular child. Sometimes they will send messages to hundreds of young people and wait to see who responds.

Groomers no longer need to meet children in real life to abuse them. Increasingly, groomers are sexually exploiting their victims by persuading them to take part in online sexual activity.

Read Charlotte’s experience of online grooming by clicking here.

*Taken from www.childline.org.uk. For more information about issues that affect children and young people, visit www.chidline.org.uk

Other useful resources

For more information about child sexual exploitation visit the following organisation’s websites. There are many other organisations that provide help, support and further information:

Barnardo’s     NHS     APP College of Policing      CEOP     Catch 22     Sefton LSCB     Knowsley SCB    NSPCC     NWG Network    Wirral SCB     Stop CSE     Liverpool SCB     PACE     St Helens SCB

 

Internet Gaming: Advice for Parents

Young people can engage in internet gaming through consoles, computers, websites or apps which also allow them to chat with others either vocally or through text. This carries with it the danger that these young people may play with adult strangers who are willing to abuse the fact that individuals of any age play these games by building ‘friendships’ with young people for the sole purpose of grooming them.

How to help your children play internet games safely

Ensure your child never shares photographs or videos of themselves to individuals online or reveals any of their personal information. Remind your child not to add individuals they meet through online games on any social media platforms.

Not all individuals that your child may encounter during internet gaming will be who they claim to be so it is crucial for you to explain this to them. It is wise to highlight to your child that they have the ability to block, report and mute other players if they make them feel uneasy in any way. Reassure your child that if they are worried about anything that they experience whilst online gaming that they can always come and speak to you.

Check your child’s privacy settings as some games consoles allow you to limit and control what other players can see about your child’s profile. These privacy settings can also prohibit individuals that your child does not know from contacting them through messages or friend requests.

Other useful resources

For more information about child sexual exploitation visit the following organisation’s websites. There are many other organisations that provide help, support and further information:

Barnardo’s     NHS     APP College of Policing      CEOP     Catch 22     Sefton LSCB     Knowsley SCB    NSPCC     NWG Network    Wirral SCB     Stop CSE     Liverpool SCB     PACE     St Helens SCB

 

Other
Organisations

To report CSE call Merseyside Police on 101  or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. In an emergency dial 999.

To report CSE call Merseyside Police on 101  or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. In an emergency dial 999.