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Be Aware – Children and Young People: What are the signs?

What are the signs of exploitation?

The signs that someone is being exploited can vary greatly and the list below is not a definite list, but here are some of the key signs to keep an eye out for:  

It can be really hard to spot the signs that you are being exploited, but here are some signs to look out for in mates. Remember if things don’t feel right; trust your gut and speak to someone. Find out more about what help is available here.

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS MY FRIEND COULD BE BEING CRIMINALLY EXPLOITED?

  • Going missing, running away or regularly going home late,
  • Skipping school or being disruptive in class,
  • Having new things that you don’t understand how they got,
  • Having lots of money all of a sudden,
  • Having mood swings and changes in behaviour,
  • Using drugs and/or alcohol and often being hungover,
  • Carrying a weapon,
  • Signs of unexplained physical harm, such as bruising and cigarette burns,
  • Having new friends or partners (who might be a lot older) and ignoring old friends,
  • Secrecy around their phone and potentially a new phone,
  • Being shady about what they are up to, or alternatively boasting about a new gang, money or experiences.
  • Changes in online behaviour – being more secretive about what they are up to and who they are talking to.

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS MY FRIEND COULD BE BEING SEXUALLY EXPLOITED?

  • Going missing, running away or regularly going home late,
  • Skipping school or being disruptive in class,
  • Having new things or gifts that you don’t understand how they got,
  • Regularly getting sexually transmitted infections (STI’s),
  • Being worried about becoming pregnant, falling pregnant or having abortions (and/or the morning after pill),
  • Having mood swings and changes in behaviour,
  • Using drugs and/or alcohol and being hungover on a regular basis,
  • Behaving in a sexual way, such as over-familiarity with strangers, dressing in revealing clothes or sexting and sending nude photos,
  • Using sex in exchange for something,
  • Signs of unexplained physical harm, such as bruising and cigarette burns,
  • Having new friends or partners (who might be a lot older) and ignoring older friends,
  • Secrecy around phone and activities.
  • Changes in online behaviour – being more secretive about what they are up to online and who they are talking to.

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS MY FRIEND MAY BE A VICTIM OF TRAFFICKING OR MODERN SLAVERY?

Stop the Traffick
Stop the Traffick
  • acts as if instructed by another, as though they are forced or coerced to carry out specific activities,
  • demonstrates signs of physical or psychological abuse, such as lacking self esteem, seeming anxious, bruising or untreated medical conditions,
  • seems to be bonded by debt or owes money,
  • has little or no contact with family or loved ones,
  • is distrustful of authorities,
  • has threats made against themselves or family members,
  • is not in possession of their own legal documents.

How do I know if I’m being exploited?

It can be really hard to know if you are being exploited, abusers and groomers are very clever at what they do and they do everything they can to make it feel like all is ok. Making and breaking of any relationship both on and offline is such a key part of growing up and abusers know this.

Because when you're in that life
Not in our community

‘Not In Our Community’ have produced a great resource, highlighting what being exploited actually feels like for young people. More information can be accessed here.

WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE TO BE GROOMED?

If someone is being groomed, it won’t feel scary and wrong, it will feel exciting and special. Grooming is a process of building trust so that a person will often feel loved and understood. They will think they have control, that they are getting what they want and that they have changed or grown up to fit in with new friends.

Generally, they will feel happy and confident throughout this period, looking forward to new opportunities and potentially experiencing new things for the first time (such as parties, drinking and drugs), not realising they are in any danger.

How do perpetrators groom victims?

Healthy Relationships:

It can help when spotting the signs of exploitation to understand how you feel about the relationship you are in and whether it feels healthy and safe? Remember; this can be any sort of relationship – with a mate, with a boyfriend or girlfriend, with someone you are talking to online or with someone you have only just met.

Spot The Signs || Healthy Relationships
Am I in a Good Relationship?

Childline

Childline have produced lots of information about healthy and unhealthy relationships, which can be accessed here.


Not in our community

Not in Our Community have produced an interactive online quiz: “Healthy Relationship? ” which can be accessed here.


Faceup2it. Loves me, loves me not quiz.

faceup2it have produced an interactive quiz: So how healthy is your relationship? Not sure if your boyfriend is the real deal? Does your girlfriend value you for who you are? Do you feel respected by your partner? Why not try our Loves Me…Loves Me Not quiz to find out how healthy your relationship is.

If you are in a relationship and any of the following things happen; it could be a sign that you are being exploited:

Child Sat
  • Threaten to end the relationship if you don’t do something you don’t want to do e.g. have sex, perform a sexual act, commit a crime.
  • Making you, or forcing you to do something you don’t feel comfortable doing.
  • Asking you to take sexual photo’s of yourself, or share them online.
  • Expecting you to do things e.g. have sex/perform sexual acts, commit a crime in exchange for things you may want e.g. Money, food, drugs, alcohol, a place to stay.
  • Asking, or making you to do things you don’t want to do for other people.
  • Threatening or blackmailing you if you say there is something you don’t want to do.

Its important to remember that if any of these things happen, that it’s not your fault! Even if you are worried that you might get into trouble its important to speak to people. Help and support is available. Find out more here.

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