Quick support guide for parents and carers

If you had concerns about your child’s welfare and safety, or worry they are being exploited – what would you do? Do you know where to turn to for help?

If you’re worried about a child, or know that they’re involved with a gang or criminal group, try to be aware where they are when they’re out, who they’re with and what they’re doing on social media. It’s important they trust you, but they might also be at risk.

Get to know your child’s friends and their families, and work with other parents and schools to keep an eye on their behaviour and who they’re with. This will help to know when they might need support or when they might be at risk. Online or offline bullying might be a key factor in your child becoming more vulnerable to gang activity.

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You can encourage your child to get involved in positive activities at school or outside your local area – such as sports and clubs. You can also talk to them about what they want to do in the future, and find apprenticeships and school programmes to help. It’s important to feel like they have other options.

Talk to them about how to cope with pressure and how to deal with conflicts without using violence. Try to teach by example and look for ways of disciplining a child that don’t involve violence, so they feel like they can still talk to you about what’s happening.

It’s ok to ask for support as a parent or guardian of a young person. You can contact us via our website.

Talk to the safeguarding lead at the child’s school and ask for support. Contact the police immediately if you’re worried the child is in danger.

Spot the signs of child exploitation

  • Always going missing from home or school and being found far away from where they live
  • Being secretive with their phone. Spending a lot of time online, or receiving lots of strange messages from people they don’t know
  • Being under the influence of alcohol or other drugs on a regular basis
  • Expensive items they can’t account for, such as clothes, trainers, money or jewellery
  • Lots of texts and phone calls on multiple mobile phones, especially cheap handsets
  • Relationships with older, controlling people
  • Suspicion of self harm, physical assault or unexplained injuries
  • Sudden or unusual mood changes; active aggressively or secretively or becoming withdrawn, for example
  • Changes in friendship groups, music, clothes, behaviour or school attendance
  • Using phrases like going country, going cunch, trap house, plugging and bando
Child criminal exploitation spot the signs
Child sexual exploitation spot the signs

Where to get support

As well as getting in touch with our team, you can also contact the below organisations for help.

Want more options for support? Then check out our guide to support services for parents.

The Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner has also commissioned a whole host of projects and organisations across Bedfordshire which might be able to help. Please visit the PCC’s website for a full list.