Anyone from any background can be exploited.
There are many physical and psychological signs a child or young person might exhibit if they are being exploited. There is no single offence of exploitation and so signs can vary with each individual. Recognising changes in a person’s behaviour overall will help in identifying a child that is being exploited.
These lists are neither prescriptive nor exhaustive.
Common signs of exploitation:
- having unexplained mobile phone credit or a new mobile phone
- having unknown telephone contacts
- possessing drugs or alcohol
- staying out late
- being disengaged from family members
- exhibiting inappropriate sexual behaviour
- being withdrawn
- spending more time online
- going missing from home
- missing education
- being disengaged
- appearing anxious
- being blackmailed (also known as debt bondage)
- being secretive.
Signs of gang exploitation may include:
- fear of other neighbourhoods
- offensive, antisocial behaviour
- providing alibis for other gang members
- having new friends of different ages
- carrying a new mobile phone
- carrying weapons
- being involved in petty crime
- a distinctive dress style
- being approached or picked up by unknown vehicles.
Signs of child sexual exploitation may include:
- unexplained gifts
- significant older boyfriend/girlfriend
- inappropriate sexual behaviour for their age
- mood swings
- sexually transmitted infections
Signs of peer-on-peer exploitation may include:
- defensive behaviour about peer group
- increased time spent online
- having unexplained items such as money and gifts
- being bullied.