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How to spot the signs

Child sexual exploitation can be difficult to recognise as victims sometimes don't realise they are being exploited and believe they are in a consenting, loving relationship and they often feel they need to hide the signs to protect the offender.

However, the following are indications that a child or teenager may be at risk:

Behavioural signs

  • The child suddenly has extra money or new possessions which they cannot account for
  • Reluctant to discuss who they are socialising with, or regularly goes missing for short spells
  • Mood swings or aggressive behaviour towards adults and children
  • Truancy/disengagement with education or change in performance at school
  • Low self-esteem/ poor self-image, which may result in eating disorders
  • Inappropriate sexualised behaviour

Physical signs

  • Bruising or evidence of self-harm
  • Evidence of drink or drug use
  • Dressing inappropriately
  • Sexually transmitted diseases

Social signs

  • Young people meeting people who are much older in adult environments, such as pubs and bars
  • Young people checking into hotels with adults they are not related to
  • Sharing taxis home with older people they are not related to after a night out