Sexual predators often make their first contact with young people on the streets, outside schools, at cinemas, in bus or train stations.
Sometimes they will use one girl to contact others. They will buy gifts, take the children out and make them promises.
Children could be persuaded to truant from school, and they become secretive, perhaps returning home late and spending increasingly shorter times with their family. They could be given alcohol and drugs.
The friendliness will then turn to requests for sexual favours in payment for gifts. Children can become alienated from their family, friends and teachers. They may be scared for their own and their family's safety.
How to spot the warning signs
Has your child had a sudden change in behaviour? Perhaps they’re associating with increasingly older men and disappearing for large amounts of time? Are they increasingly on their smartphones or on the computer, and are being secretive about it?
Children are groomed in different ways. It may be difficult for parents and carers to differentiate between ordinary teenage rebellion and the risk of sexual exploitation but below are some of the signs that may signify if children are being groomed.
- Not mixing with their usual friends.
- Associating with older men.
- Developing relationship of a sexual nature with a significantly older man or a woman.
- Being hostile or physically aggressive in their relationship with parents/carers and other family members.
- Being defensive about where they have been and what they've been doing.
- Appearing drunk or under the influence of drugs.
- Truanting school or having problems with school.
- Looking tired or ill, sleeping during the day.
- Having increasing health-related problems.
- Staying out at nights.
- Going missing.
- Sudden and considerable change in performance at school or in hobbies.
- Changing use of language.
- Getting involved in petty crime.
- Volatile behaviour.
- Becoming disruptive or using abusive language.
- Exhibiting self harming behaviour or suicidal tendencies.
- Being pregnant or suffering from Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).
- Having money, mobile phones, clothes, jewellery or other items not given by parents/carers.
- Receiving more phone calls or text messages than usual.
- Changing physical appearance - new clothes, more make-up.
- Having marks or scars on their body which they try to conceal by refusing to undress or uncover parts of their body.
- Returning home after long intervals but appearing to be well cared for.
What to do if you think your child is being groomed
Anyone who is a victim of this type of crime, or who knows someone who might be, or is worried about their child should contact our Child Sexual Exploitation Investigation Unit on 101.
Between 9 - 5 Monday to Friday call a dedicated social care phoneline run by Child First Derby can be contaced on 01332 641133 to report any concerns or outside those hours Careline can be contacted on 01332 711250.
People from other parts of the country can ring the Runaway Helpline, which is being staffed by the national charity Missing People, on 0808 800 7070. This national charity will offer support and advice not only about anyone who may have run away or is missing, but on all issues regarding sexual exploitation.
Advice for preventing exploitation
The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) is dedicated to eradicating the sexual abuse of children. They have made more than 1600 arrests since being formed in 2006
Their ThinkUKnow website has a wealth of advice to help protect your children, information on getting up to speed with current trends in technology that your children may be using, and information on reporting incidents through CEOP.
Advice leaflet available
Derby City Council in partnership have produced an advice leaflet for parents or carers of children who are potentially at risk of sexual exploitation. This can be downloaded from the Related Documents section of this page.
We work closely with the National Working Group, a charitable organisation that brings together practitioners in the field of child sexual exploitation. Their website hosts a range of useful information on this topic, and can be found at http://www.nationalworkinggroup.org/
The Derby and Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Board websites also have a wide range of information on the work they do to protect children across the county.
Non-recent sexual abuse
If you are a victim of non-recent child sexual abuse, concerned about someone else who is, or otherwise have information about child sexual abuse; and you wish to talk to the Derbyshire police, there are a number of ways you can do this. You can dial 101, contact us online or speak to a Safer Neighborhood team member.
Read more about Derbyshire's response to non-recent child sexual abuse.