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Advice for parents

As a parent or carer it is important to discuss with children the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships to help highlight potential risks to them.

There are a number of practical steps you can take to protect children such as:

  • Staying alert to changes in behaviour or any physical signs of abuse
  • Being aware of new, unexplained gifts or possessions
  • Monitor any episodes of staying out late or not returning home
  • Making sure you understand the risks of online grooming and make sure your child knows how to stay safe online
  • Be aware of who your child is friends with and any relationships they may have where there appears to be an imbalance in power

Talking to your child

If your child is being sexually exploited, they probably won’t recognise that what is happening is abuse. They may reject your attempts to help them.

However it’s important that you make sure that they know that you are there for them.

Having open and honest conversations with your child can help. Let them know that there are plenty of people who care for them and who can help them.

Describe the behaviour changes you’ve noticed and explain why they have worried you.

Speak to them about healthy relationships. Explain that in a healthy relationship no-one is ever pressured, bullied, or threatened into doing anything they don’t feel comfortable doing.

If your child doesn’t feel comfortable talking to you, let them know that there are other ways they can get help and support.

Seek help from professionals who can advise you on the steps to take.

Help and support

There are a number of organisations who can help provide help, support, and advice to both you and your children. Visit our help and support page to find out more.

If you do suspect your child is being sexually exploited, it’s important you report it.

Call police on 101 (or 999 in an emergency) or visit the Child Sexual Exploitation Online Protection Centre (opens in new window) to make a report online.

Visit ThinkUKnow (opens in new window) which has an advice centre full of useful advice on what to do if you suspect your child is being abused and how to keep your children safe online.

Whatever your situation, if you believe that your child is or has been sexually exploited, it is likely that you will need support for yourself, as well as for your child.

Talk to a friend or relative who you trust, who will listen and support you, or call the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000.

You may find the following documents useful:

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