One of the most difficult things about discovering that your child or a child that you care for has been, or is at risk of being, sexually exploited is broaching the subject with them. Especially if the offender has tried to turn your child against you, breaking apart a once close relationship.

 

Here's our advice for how to start the conversation

 

Be supportive

Above all else, make sure you tell your child that, whatever has happened, it’s not their fault, that you believe them and that you are on their side.   Listen to your child, don’t judge them. 

Plan what you’re going to say

Think about how you will bring up the subject and what you want to ask. It’s also worth thinking about how your child might react to your questions and what you will do or say to reassure them.

Choose the when and where carefully

Pick a private, quiet place where you won’t be interrupted or overheard. A place where your child can say as much or as little as they like or get as upset as they want, without feeling like anyone else is watching or listening.

Stay calm

Child sexual exploitation is a hugely upsetting subject, but try to stay calm when talking to your child. It could make a big difference to how much they do or don’t tell you. 

Be direct but gentle

Make sure your child knows exactly what you’re asking them but be gentle about it. Avoid questions that might feel too personal such as ‘What happened?’ and instead focus on how they are feeling now.

Use language your child will understand

Terms like ‘sexual exploitation’, ‘manipulate’ and ‘coerce’ might go over your child’s head. So try to use simpler terms that they’ll understand. For example, ‘keeping safe’, ‘trick’, ‘force,’ or ‘take advantage of’. 

For more advice on initiating a conversation on difficult topics go to www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/keeping-children-safe/talking-about-difficult-topics/