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Exploiters’ tactics

Exploiters will identify ways in which they can befriend your child, and position themselves as supporting them.

Before exploiters begin to criminally exploit your child, they will have built a relationship with them that means your child thinks they can trust them.

Exploiters often target young people who are lonely, isolated, or looking for someone to care for them. This could include young people who are quiet and struggling to fit in, or are experiencing a new situation, such as a new school or college. The young person may also have challenges within their family, such as their parents separating, or they may be looking for status or protection.

Common tactics of exploiters

Exploiters make young people feel wanted and cared for. They might do this through being available when parents or carers are working or otherwise busy, and by:

  • taking them out for food
  • taking them on days out
  • giving them clothes or shoes

They may also make claims about offering young people a ‘new family’.

Exploiters may offer young people a change to make ‘easy money’ through showing off luxury cars, designer clothes, and mobile phones. They may give young people money, ‘helping them out’ by buying them things. These tactics persuade the young person that the exploiter can be trusted.

But exploiters also threaten harm to young people. This often includes threatening to hurt the young person or their family if they do not do as they are told, if they tell anyone the truth, or if they try to escape. They may even film the young person being assaulted in order to blackmail them.