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A frequent indicator of child exploitation is a child going missing and then being trafficked to be exploited. Children and young people go missing for a variety of reasons. There may have been a misunderstanding about what time they were due to be back or they may have been the victim of a crime.
Trafficking can be when a child or young person is forced, persuaded or even tricked into leaving their home or transported in order to be exploited. Children can be trafficked for a range of reasons including criminal exploitation, sexual exploitation and forced labour.
Perpetrators of trafficking often use physical, emotional and sexual abuse to groom and control those children and young people they are trying to traffic, and this can extend to their families and communities in order to gain their trust. They can also bribe young people with lavish gifts and the promise of money to traffic them and ultimately exploit them which can often mean that victims don’t realise they are victims.
Signs to watch out for are:
Frequent missing episodes
A child or young person travelling long distances on public transport
A child or young person travelling with older unfamiliar acquaintances
A child wearing expensive clothing and/or accessories
Hostile or aggressive behaviour
Obsessed by their mobile phone
Disengaging from school
If your child is missing you must report them as missing to the police. When you call the police (on 101 or 999) tell them you are calling to report a child missing. The call handler will then ask for your location and the length of time your child has been missing.
Missing People charity also offer a free, 24-hour, anonymous phone and SMS helpline, 116 000, enabling young people to disclose information and seek support.
If you have concerns about yourself or someone you know being victim to human trafficking, please report this to the police on 101. Always call 999 in an emergency.
You can also contact Warwickshire County Council Family Support on 01926 742274.