Skip to main content

Knowing the signs

Even something that seems like normal teenage behaviour could be a sign that a child is being sexually exploited. Some of the visible signs that family members or people who know young people might identify are:

  • regularly missing from home or school and staying out all night
  • change in behaviour - becoming aggressive and disruptive or quiet and withdrawn
  • unexplained gifts or new possessions, such as clothes, jewellery, mobile phones or money that cannot be accounted for
  • increase in mobile phone use or secretive use
  • appearing to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • being picked up or dropped off in cars by unknown adults
  • a significantly older ‘boyfriend’ or ‘friend’ or lots of new friends
  • spending excessive amount of time online and becoming increasingly secretive about time spent online
  • sudden involvement in criminal behaviour or increased offending
  • sexual health problems

Members of the public and those in service industries, such as taxi drivers, hoteliers and food outlets, might notice signs like:

  • being taken into a hotel room by one or more adults who do not seem to be family members
  • being in a hotel room which is visited or requested by a number of additional adults
  • going by taxi to a hotel or other venue to meet a group of adults who do not seem to be family members
  • being out late with older adults who do not seem to be family members
  • being bought alcoholic drinks by adults
  • being in the company of adults who are known or suspected of being involved in adult prostitution
  • being bought food or drinks by a much older adult whom they seem to see as a boyfriend/girlfriend
  • indications of sexual activity with one or more adult who is significantly older than the young person
  • indications of sexual activity involving a young person who you know or suspect to be under 16

Have you encountered a problem with this page?