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Information for parents

Child criminal exploitation can be very frightening for young people, parents, and carers.

It is important to remember that the only people to blame are the exploiters.

Reassure them

Your child may be frightened or ashamed of what has happened. The exploiters may have told them that you don’t love them, or that they will be arrested or taken into local authority care. Reassure them that you love them, and want to help and support them.

Listen without judgement

Your child may tell you things that are worrying or frightening. It is important that you listen, creating a safe place where you can talk.

It can be difficult if your child is behaving aggressively, going missing, or blaming you. The exploiters want to turn them against you: they want your child isolated. Your child may also be trying to protect you from what they have experienced.

Seek help

Talk to a trusted relative, friend, or faith leader. Contact an organisation with specialist knowledge of child criminal exploitation.

Remember that you are not alone, and things will improve. There will be other parents in your area who are in a similar situation.

Record events

It can be challenging to identify child criminal exploitation. Keep a record of behaviours, incidents or events that concern you: the names of friends or people your child talks about, bus or train tickets for unusual or unexpected trips, car registration numbers. This helps to build a picture of what is happening and provides evidence that the police can investigate.

The record can be shared with professionals to show how long you have been worried, and the warning signs you have noticed.

Report them missing

If your child goes missing, report this to the police.

If you are concerned that they might go missing, complete a Philomena Protocol form about your child, their friends, and their usual habits. Keep a copy to share with the police if your child goes missing.