The most important thing is to keep channels of communication open with your child. Keep talking and make sure they know you are on their side.
One of the things that groomers are very good at is listening and understanding how your child may feel… so bear that in mind.
It is secrets that are dangerous – make sure your child knows that they can talk to you and you will listen.
It is natural as a parent to want to protect and shield your child from any sort of danger or harm. One of the simplest ways of doing that is by forbidding the worrying behaviour – ‘No, you are not going to the party’; ‘and no you can’t go to the gig’; ‘and you certainly can’t stay over’… or when you discover them spending too much time on social media or receiving messages from people you don’t know or like – again it is easy to take their phone or iPad away…or forbid them from having any contact with the dodgy person…
However, often this plays straight into the abusers hands… you are now the bad guy… the one they have to keep secrets from.
However, sometimes inviting the person you don’t approve of to dinner to meet the family is a far better deterrent.
It is hard to take advantage of someone who talks openly to their parent’s. Now – you don’t have to like it – but it is far better to know what is going on and for your child to be able to be honest with you, rather than them sneaking around behind you back…
Get to know your child’s friends – invite around their girlfriends and boyfriends – take interest in their lives and try to be on their side.
Taking away a child’s phone or internet access is again a general no, no. Yes it may isolate them from their abuser for a time – but it will also isolate them from their true friends too. Indeed, it isn’t hard for an abuser to give them another secret phone – one they will definitely hide if they think you might confiscate it.
If you are worried about your child or feel that something isn’t right – start talking. Ask to speak to their teachers, see if they have noticed any changes too. Contact…?
There is a fantastic organisation called Parents Against Child Exploitation. They have lots of great information on their website about how you can support you child and access support yourself.
Or click here for more information and support services (scroll down page for national services)