Help us shine a light on exploitation
Children and young people are being targeted by criminal gangs, who manipulate and coerce them into taking part in criminality, such as stealing, carrying drugs or weapons or sexually exploit them for their own purposes.
Although this is a national issue, it is also happening in Bedfordshire and we need to be aware of this and to be able to spot the signs that our children may be victims of exploitation.
Exploitation can take place in many forms and can include gang involvement, county lines, drugs, sexual violence and exploitation, trafficking, modern day slavery, weapons (including knives and firearms), cuckooing and more.
A virtual conference is being held on online on Thursday 25 February from 9.30am to 3.30pm and is aimed at those who work with young people across Bedfordshire, as well as parents and/or carers, who may have concerns and want to learn more about spotting the signs of exploitation.
The event will explore the impact of exploitation within the family, missed opportunities, inclusion of parents and contextual safeguarding and will include presentations from members of the VERU YIS team, the National Working Group Exploitation Response Unit, SPACE, Link to Change and FACES, as well as parents who have been affected by exploitation and knife crime.
You can view the full digital conference brochure on our website.
How to #SeeTheSigns
There are a number of signs that you can look out for which could flag whether your child is being exploited or is at risk or exploitation:
- Do they have an extra mobile phone?
- Do they have new clothes or gadgets they can’t account for?
- Are they receiving excessive phone calls or texts, particularly from someone you don’t know?
- Are they persistently going missing from school or home?
- Have they started hanging around with older people or groups?
- Are they leaving home without any explanation?
- Do they have any injuries they can’t explain?
If your child is involved in a gang they may be scared and not want to talk about it. It is important that they know you want to listen and support them. Make sure they know they have a choice.
Try to understand the situation from their point of view. Ask them what you can do to help. Try to agree about what they should do next. Work with them to find solutions and choices.
The Bedfordshire Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit is here to provide support for all people affected by youth violence, including parents, carers, grandparents and other family members.
You can contact us if you need more help and support, or please visit our VERU Village pages for more help and support services.