Parents/carers can discuss the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships with their children, this is really important in helping highlight potential risks to them.

There are also practical steps you can take, such as:

  • Don’t wait to be 100% sure, collect evidence, if you suspect that your child is at risk – act now and call Child Line or Essex Police.
  • Stay alert to changes in behaviour or any physical signs of abuse, e.g. bruising
  • Be aware of new, unexplained gifts or possessions, e.g. mobile phones, and carefully monitor any instances of staying out late or not returning home
  • Exercise caution around older friends your child may have, or relationships with other young people where there appears to be a power imbalance
  • Make sure you understand the risks associated with your child being online and put measures in place to minimise them.

This parent leaflet is a useful guide to help you talk to your child about CSE. 

Sometimes grooming and sexual exploitation takes place online. Make sure you know how to keep your children safe.

If you are worried about something that has happened online, help is available:

Has someone acted inappropriately towards your child online? Report it to CEOP.

If your child shares something online that they wish they hadn’t, they shouldn’t feel guilty. ChildLine can help you and your child get the image removed.

NSPCC has advice and tools to help keep your child safe whenever and wherever they go, including Parents' perceptions of sexting

If your child does not return home when you expect them to and you are worried, in the first instance you should try and find out where they are.Contact relatives or friends to see if they have seen them or know where they are. You should also search your property and local area to see if you can locate them. You should also:

  • Try to contact them directly via mobile phone, text or social networking sites (such as WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat)
  • Check their bedroom and any other place where your child might be within the house or building
  • Check the garden, garage, sheds, grounds and surrounding area
  • Check with their friends, school, neighbours, relatives, work or anyone else who may have any suggestions about where they might be. Ask them to tell you immediately if they hear from the missing person

However, if your child is missing or has run away from home, you must contact the police. Dial 999 in an emergency situation or call your local police force immediately on 101.

If you cannot locate your child following a telephone and physical search then you should report them missing to the police by dialing 101. You do not have to wait 24 hours before reporting them missing.

Find out more about Missing Children and what to do.

Catch 22   

If you have concerns about child sexual exploitation: Call Police on 101 

If you or a young person you care about is in immediate danger: Dial 999

If you are concerned about a child in Essex, call Family Operations Hub (Social Care): 

0345 603 7627 or 0845 606 1212 (out of hours)

To report anonymously, call: 

For concerns about online sexual exploitation:

Letter to Parents from Simon Hart, Independent Chair of ESCB (sent via schools)

Parents Against Child Exploitation (PACE) is the leading national charity working with parents and carers of sexually exploited children.

Pace helps parents across the UK understand what is happening to their child and how parents are the prime agents in helping their child exit exploitative relationships. 

It does this by offering: 

  • One-to-one telephone advice and support to parents
  • Facilitating meetings with similarly-affected parents for peer support 
  • Advising how to establish rights as parents and work in partnership with statutory agents such as police and social workers 
  • Advice and support when pursuing disruption and prosecution of the perpetrators of child sexual exploitation 
  • A FREE online course for Parents and Carers - register here.