Child sexual exploitation can be difficult to identify, but the following signs may suggest that your child is being, or at risk of being, sexually exploited:

  • Regularly coming home late
  • Going missing from home frequently
  • Regularly missing school or college
  • Bringing home unexplained or unaffordable new items, such as clothes, a mobile phone or jewellery
  • Reduced contact with family and friends
  • Behaving out of character
  • An older boyfriend, girlfriend or friendship group
  • Suffering from sexually transmitted infections
  • Self-harming
  • Displaying inappropriate sexualised behaviour
  • Experimenting with drugs and/or alcohol



What can I do to protect my child from exploitation?

Young people are particularly vulnerable to sexual exploitation because they want to experiment, take risks, and push boundaries. However, there are some things that you can do to protect your child:

  • Talk to your child about healthy and unhealthy relationships
  • Discuss internet safety with your child and take action to reduce risk when they are online
  • Be aware of the warning signs of child sexual exploitation and access support if you have any concern

In the words of a parent

“It’s a very isolating situation to be in and there’s a huge stigma attached to it; you think people are thinking ‘you couldn’t have cared enough or paid enough attention. You do feel guilty because you feel as if you have failed to protect your child and that will probably stay with me until the day I die. Without Safe and Sound, I dread to think where I’d be.”