PARENT INFORMATION

Advice and Support for parents, carers and guardians as part of our commitment to working in partnership to keep children and young people safe.

Recognising the importance of linking children’s learning at school and among peers to their life at home, it is recommended you speak to your son/daughter about their safety and behaviour when out with friends. This is also an opportunity to set boundaries and give reassurance that they can speak to you if they ever find themselves affected by any issues or concerns. Children can be victims of anti-social behaviour too.

What is Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB)?

Anti-social behaviour is an incident that falls short of a crime, where the behaviour and actions of an individual or group causes, or is likely to:Anti-social behaviour is an incident that falls short of a crime, where the behaviour and actions of an individual or group causes, or is likely to:

  • Cause harassment, alarm or distress to any person of another household
  • Cause a person to feel personally threatened
  • Cause a public nuisance or detrimental impact upon the environment
  • Cause a detrimental effect upon the quality of life of an individual or the community as a whole

What is the Law?

Anti-social Behaviour is not a crime in itself, the acts and behaviours within incidents of ASB can amount to offences and would be dealt with accordingly. The Police have various powers and laws to assist them to tackle ASB and keep communities safe; in addition to fines and court sanctions, other outcomes include:

Local authorities and social landlords also have powers to deal with anti-social behaviour. These include issuing CPNs, PSPOs and evicting tenants whose children, or themselves, are responsible for causing ASB.

What can I do as a parent?

Young people often feel they are blamed as the main cause of anti-social behaviour; the stereotype arises largely from the fact that groups of young people often hang out on the streets. Certain behaviour, which is not always intended to cause nuisance, can be perceived by people in the community as ASB when it has an impact on their everyday lives.

It is recommended you have talk to your child about ASB when the time comes that you let them venture out without you, in just the same way you would talk to them about staying safe. Explain how their behaviour will affect others and how it can be perceived, encouraging them to be mindful and considerate. It is also important to make them aware of the consequences for them and the family if they became involved in causing ASB.

Before they go out, ask them:

  • What they are planning to do?
  • Where they are going?
  • Who they are going with?
  • What time, and how they will be getting home?

Tell them:

  • To think about what they are doing
  • Not to cause distress or annoyance to others
  • Not to cause damage to property
  • Not to put themselves or others in danger

Access to Alcohol:

  • ASB and accidents are commonly linked to alcohol, children often take it from home without parents’ knowledge
  • Keep alcohol in a safe place
  • Keep a regular check on the alcohol you have to know if any goes missing.

Young people can also be the victims of crime and disorder:

  • Make sure they know how to stay safe
  • Make sure they know what to do if they are victim of crime
  • Make sure they can contact an adult at any time and who it is
  • Make sure they know how to use the police 101 and 999 services

Reporting ASB?

If you or your child experience anti-social behaviour, you can report this to your local authority or the police. Although it is not possible to send police officers to every incident, reports are recorded and help build a picture of merging issues and hotspots for local police to include in their community response plans and patrols.

Support Services

Local authorities, social housing providers and community organisations can provide support and advice to the public to help with nuisance and ASB. Many will have a designated ASB officer. Contact your housing provider directly or visit our support service directory for contact information.

Hampshire Police
www.hampshire.police.uk/contact-us/
Tel: 101 for non-emergency assistance
If your child is in immediate danger call 999

Victim Support
www.victimsupport.org.uk
Tel: 0845 30 30 900
8am – 8pm Mon-Fri; 9am – 7pm weekends; 9am – 5pm bank holidays

Southampton City Council ASB Team
Civic Centre, Southampton, SO14 7LY
Email: community.safety@southampton.gov.uk

Hampshire County Council Community Safety Team
Monarch Way, Winchester, SO22 5PW
Email: community.safety@hants.gov.uk
Tel: 0845 600 1747

Portsmouth City Council Anti-Social Behaviour Unit
Civic Offices, Guildhall Square, Portsmouth, PO1 2BG
Email: cityhelpdesk@portsmouthcc.gov.uk
Tel: 023 9268 8507

Cyberbullying can be one of the toughest types of bullying to cope with. Smartphones and other devices mean there is no escaping it and so it can continue to happen around the clock. Words and images are preserved online for others to see which can contribute to more people joining in on bullying.

Recognising the importance of linking children’s learning at school and among their friends to their life at home, it is recommended you speak to your child about their safety and behaviour when they are online.
This is also an opportunity to set boundaries and give reassurance that they can speak to you if they ever find themselves affected by cyber-bullying or any other online issues.

The information and links to other resources on this page are intended to support you to have this conversation, and expand your understanding of online safety in general. A quick reference information leaflet is available via  the link button below.


Cyberbullying Advice for Parents

What is cyber-bullying?

Cyber bullying is a form of bullying that takes place online using electronic media such as mobile phones, carried out by one person or a group. Types of bullying can include blackmail/threats, abusive comments, spreading rumours, sharing embarrassing pictures or creating fake profiles on social networking sites.

What is the law?

Cyber-bullying is not a crime in itself, the acts and behaviours within incidents of online bullying can amount to offences and would be dealt with accordingly. Cyber-bullying is not a crime in itself, the acts and behaviours within incidents of online bullying can amount to offences and would be dealt with accordingly. Laws to assist Police to deal with cases of cyberbullying include:

  • The Protection from Harassment Act of 1997
  • The Malicious Communication Act of 1998

How do I know if my child is being cyber-bullied?

There is “no one sign” to indicate a child is being bullied online, there are a number of things that parents can be aware of which may indicate their child is being bullied, especially those which are out of character which may prompt the need to ask them ‘Are you okay?’There is “no one sign” to indicate a child is being bullied online, there are a number of things that parents can be aware of which may indicate their child is being bullied, especially those which are out of character which may prompt the need to ask them ‘Are you okay?’.

  1. Appearing anxious, upset or abrupt after using their device This can indicate your child’s experiences online are not pleasant ones, which may suggest they are being bullied or facing other online issues.
  2. Changes to their ususal use of their deviceAlthough no child wants their parents looking at their messages, if they appear more protective of their device, are using it more or less than usual or doesn’t want to talk about it if you bring it up, this could be a red flag.
  3. Mood ChangesChildren being bullied can experience spontaneous changes in mood at times when it is affecting them most. Although all children have ups and downs, be aware of extremes which make you think ‘that’s not like them’.”
  4. Avoiding school or social situationsAlthough it’s common to want to go to school, a refusal to go which is out of character may be a sign that something is wrong. Online bullying is often carried out at school, involve school peers or linked to something going on at school. Same applies to clubs or groups they belong to.
  5. IllnessComplaint of illness, or effects on wellbeing which are out of character and which tie in with having to go to school or on social occasions are signs to be aware of. They may not be faking – it’s well evidenced that children being bullied suffer effects on their mental health as a result of stress and anxiety.

What can I do as a parent?

Reassure them

If you’re worried your child is being bullied online, the advice from the NSPCC is to let them know that you want to help them put a stop to it.If you’re worried your child is being bullied online, the advice from the NSPCC is to let them know that you want to help them put a stop to it.

  • Encourage them to talk to someone they trust – this may not be you
  • Reassure them they are believed and there is support to help them, making sure they know how to access the relevant services

Help them cope and manage the process 

Listen when they need to talk, keep calm, don’t judge and don’t underestimate the effect it is having on them

  • Help them find coping mechanisms which doesn’t involve taking their device from them as it can cause additional stresses and anxieties – developing resilience is vital to them getting through the experience
  • Be led by them – it’s important they are in control of the situation where possible, understanding their choices, given the time needed to think and decide what is best for them

Block and Report

If the bullying is taking place on a social networking site such as Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat, there is a function which allows the user to block someone. You can also contact them directly, they have policies in place to remove inappropriate material and can even delete the bully’s account.

Report to Facebook
Report to Snapchat
Report to Twitter

Net-aware, in partnership with the NSPCC and O2, provide an A-Z of social media sites and apps to help inform parents.

What if I need help?

Often parents are unable to resolve the situation for their child alone as it is to complex, sensitive or severe; in such cases, it may be necessary to involve the school, club/youth group or the police to help address what is happening. It is perfectly understandable when parents require help and often what is needed to resolve some cases of cyberbullying.

In cases where your child is subject to severe and persistent bullying, it is recommended that all emails, messages and screen shots of social media posts are stored as evidence of the bullying. Although bullying is not a crime in itself, the behaviours and actions of the bullies can be.

Please advise your child not to retaliate, this in turn can be bullying.

Support Services

A vast number of organisations provide services to support children and help them cope with bullying, many now provide advice to help parents support their child through and after experiences of online bullying:

Hampshire Police
www.hampshire.police.uk/contact-us/
Tel: 101 for non-emergency assistance
If your child is in immediate danger call 999

Anti-bullying Alliance
Tools for Parents:
https://www.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk/tools-information/advice-parents

BBC
Support your child’s education videos and advice:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/parents/cyber_bullying/

CEOP
Keep your children safe from harm:
https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/parents/

Department of Education
Advice for Parents & Carers on Cyberbullying (pdf): https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/444865/Advice_for_parents_on_cyberbullying.pdf

Internet Matters
https://www.internetmatters.org/issues/cyberbullying/

NHS
Advice for Parents:
https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Bullying/Pages/Bullyingadviceforparents.aspx

NSPCC
Tips & Advice for Parents:
https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/child-abuse-and-neglect/bullying-and-cyberbullying/keeping-children-safe/

UK Safer Internet Centre
https://www.saferinternet.org.uk/blog/cyberbullying-advice-parents-and-carers

Victim Support
https://www.victimsupport.org.uk/
Tel: 0845 30 30 900
8am – 8pm Mon – Fri; 9am – 7pm weekends; 9am – 5pm bank holidays

Information Leaflets

Online education websites for you and your children, providing information and activities to help learn the importance of being safe and responsible online.

CEOP
ThinkUknow for kids:
https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/

Childline
Help with bullying:
https://www.childline.org.uk/info-advice/bullying-abuse-safety/types-bullying/
Children can call Childline for free advice and support 24/7 on 0800 1111

Childnet
http://www.childnet.com/young-people

NSPCC/O2
https://www.o2.co.uk/help/nspcc/cyberbullying

This information provides parents, carers and guardians with advice and support relating to domestic abuse as part of our commitment to working in partnership to keep children and young people safe.

Recognising the importance of linking children’s learning at school and among their friends into their life at home, it is recommended you speak to your son/daughter about abuse in relationships as education and awareness raising can prevent them being involved in domestic abuse as they grow up.

Talking to them provides an opportunity for you to:

  • help them understand what domestic abuse is in a relationship
  • educate about safe and positive choices to avoid becoming a victim or an abuser
  • inform them of where and how to get help and support from services
  • reassure them they can speak to you if ever they find themselves worried or affected by domestic abuse in their life

What is Domestic Abuse (DA)?

Hampshire Constabulary uses the cross-government definition of domestic violence and abuse which states:

‘Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been intimate partners or family members* regardless of gender or sexuality’.

This includes ‘honour’ based violence (HBV), female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage.

Family members are mother, father, son, daughter, brother, sister and grandparents, in-laws or step-family.

Types of abuse will vary but will often fall within the following headings:

  • Psychological
  • Physical
  • Sexual
  • Financial
  • Emotional

‘Controlling behaviour

  • Acts which are intended to control a person
  • Make them feel dependent by isolating them from family, friends, and support
  • Exploit them for personal gain
  • Deprive them of the means needed for independence, resistance and/or escape
  • Dictate their everyday behavior

‘Coercive behaviour’

Acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse, used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.”

What are the risks to my child?

Any person aged 16 years or over can be at risk of domestic abuse anytime throughout their life, it is not just women at risk of being abused in a relationship, men are victims of domestic abuse too as well as parents at risk of abuse from their children.

Domestic abuse is not just use of violence; it happens through a wide range of abusive behaviours not always obvious or recognised by those affected.

Being a victim or abuser
The risk to young people becoming a victim, an abuser (offender), or both, is present throughout their life, which makes it crucial for adults to discuss and educate them about harm related topics to avoid failing to prepare them to recognise signs of abuse in a intimate relationship and within the family.

Effects on Mental Health and Wellbeing
The impact domestic abuse can have on a person’s physical and mental wellbeing is huge. Victims often find themselves feeling isolated, lost, weak, scared, helpless and worthless, often leading to severe anxiety, depression, self-harm and in extreme cases suicide.

Committing offences
Where a young person may be charged with a domestic related offence, it is important they know that details will be held on record and can be disclosed to perspective employers or relevant departments when applying to travel abroad in the future.

What is the Law?

Domestic abuse itself is not an offence, just like bullying isn’t; it is the acts and behaviours the abuser subjects their victim to that determines the offence, for example assault, theft, harassment and criminal damage.

A case of abuse will be dealt with as ‘domestic’ depending on the victim and offender being over 16 years old, have been intimate partners or are family members.

However, laws are in place for police to deal with specific Honour Based Abuse which includes:

Forced Marriage – The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 Female Genital Mutilation – Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003

Charges and Convictions
It is important young people know that being charged with an offence will result in having a criminal record which can impact their future.

When a case is reported to police, investigated and results in a young person being charged with an offence, they will then have a criminal record which is disclosable in a CRB vetting check in the future and can impact on certain opportunities such as working with children.

If the young person investigated is not charged, the crime will still be recorded and details will be held on police record, this is not a criminal record.

Although not a criminal record, young people need to know that enhanced levels of vetting may still disclose details of their involvement in a case to future employers or travel departments.

Domestic Violence Protection Orders /Notices
DVPNs and DVPOs are civil orders that came into force in 2014 as tools for police and courts to use to protect people when charge or bail is not possible.

A Domestic Violence Protection Notice (DVPN) is issued by police where there is evidence of violence or threat of violence and a DVPN is considered necessary to protect those involved.

A Domestic Violence Protection Order (DVPO) can only be issued by a court.

Orders are used to prevent an abuser from an address and/or from contacting a victim for up to 28 days.

Clare’s Law
Introduced in March 2014, Clare’s Law was named after Clare Wood who was murdered by her former boyfriend in Salford in 2009; the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme allows anyone who suspects a person they know is being abused by their current partner, to formally request information through the police about the partner’s history of domestic abuse. This can provide victims with potentially life-saving information and reduce the risk of harm to them.

What can I do as a parent?

Recognising it is not easy to discuss topics such as domestic abuse with your child, there a numerous benefits of openly talking to them about this issue which include educating and empowering them to develop skills needed to make safe and responsible choices growing up.

Talk
Talking provides an opportunity to help them understand what makes a safe and loving relationship, both intimate and within the family, and to know what makes it unsafe and unhealthy.

If no one helps them understand the difference, how can they develop the skills to know if they are a victim or an abuser in future relationships.

Educate
When talking to your child about domestic abuse, it is important to include information about risks, consequences, law, the difference of family and intimate relationships, as well as types of abusive behaviours like those identified by Women’s Aid below:

Destructive verbal abuse
Shouting/ mocking/ accusing/ name-calling/ verbally threatening 

Pressure
Sulk; threaten to withhold money; disconnect phones, take your transport/independence away; take children away; lie to your friends and family about you; tell you that you have no choice in any decisions; threaten to leave or commit suicide.

Disrespect
Persistently put you down in front of others; not listen or respond to you when you talk; interrupt your phone calls; take money from your purse without asking; refuse to help with childcare or housework.

Break trust
Lie to you; withhold information from you; act/be jealous; have other relationships; break promises and shared agreements.

Isolate
Monitor or block your phone calls; tell you where you can/cannot go and what you can/cannot do; prevent you from seeing friends and relatives.

Harass
Follow you; check up on you; open your mail, check to see who has phoned you, embarrass/belittle you in public.

Threaten
Make angry gestures; use physical size to intimidate you; shout you down; destroy your possessions; break things, punch walls, threaten with a knife/gun, threaten to kill/harm you and the children.

Sexual violence
Use force, threats or intimidation to make you carry out sexual acts; have sex with you when you don’t want to (Rape); any degrading treatment based on your sexual orientation.

Physical violence
Punch, slap, hit, bite, pinch, kick, pull hair, push, shove, burn, strangle.

Deny
Say abuse doesn’t happen; say you are the cause; be publicly gentle and patient; cry/beg for forgiveness, say it will never happen again.

Reassure
It is so important your child knows you are always there to support them in life if ever they find themselves worried or pressured by anyone or any situation; this gives confidence when it’s needed, to come to you at any time without fear of being judged, knowing they can confide in you and have your support in any risky or challenging situation. 

Support Services

Hampshire Police
Tel: 101 for non-emergency assistance
If your child is in immediate danger call 999

Victim Support
Tel: 0845 30 30 900 8am – 8pm Mon-Fri; 9am – 7pm weekends; 9am – 5pm bank holidays

Specialist Domestic Abuse support services

Broken Rainbow
Registered charity providing support for victims and survivors of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans-gender domestic abuse.

Respect UK
Working with domestic violence perpetrators, male victims and young people
Freephone: 0808 802 4040 (Mon – Fri 9am-5pm)
Email: info@respectphoneline.org.uk

Women’s Aid
National charity working to end domestic violence against women and children
Freephone: 0808 2000 247 (24hr National helpline)
Email: helpline@womensaid.org.uk

National Domestic Violence Helpline
National 24-hour helpline for women experiencing domestic violence, their family, friends, colleagues and others calling on their behalf.
Freephone: 0808 2000 247

Men’s advice Line
A confidential helpline for men experiencing domestic violence and abuse from a partner or ex-partner.
Freephone 0808 801 0327 (Mon – Fri 9am-5pm)
Email: info@mensadviceline.org.uk

Karma Nirvana
Supporting victims of honour based abuse and forced marriages
Helpline: 0800 5999 247 (Mon to Fri 09:30 -17:00)

National Stalking Helpline
Run in partnership with the Suzy Lamplugh Trust to provide information and guidance on the law, reporting stalking, gathering evidence, staying safe and reducing the risk.
Freephone: 0808 802 0300

The Holly Gazzard Trust
Provides advice, information about staying safe including the HollyGuard app which turns a smartphone into a personal alarm.

This information provides parents, carers and guardians with advice and support regarding radicalisation and extremism as part of our commitment to working in partnership to keep children and young people safe.

Recognising the importance of linking your child’s learning at school and between peers to their life at home, speaking to your son/daughter about the topic of radicalisation and extremism is encouraged to help them understand and give them with reassurance that they can speak to you if they ever find themselves worried or affected.

Concerns for parents

As a parent, your concerns about radicalisation and extremism may result from reports in the media highlighting young people that have been radicalised and drawn into extreme or terrorist groups; the reality is that the odds of this happening to your child is extremely low, most young people disagree with terrorist behaviour and would not be radicalised to join extreme groups.

While it is rare for them to become involved in terrorist activity, in an age of digital technology and social media, we must recognise that exposure to reports and information about extremism, terrorism or prejudiced views is more accessible and can influence young people’s views or affect their understanding of the world.

As part of our commitment to supporting families, respecting that this is not the easiest of issues to address with your child, the information provided here aims to assist you with talking to your child about this topic.

Understanding meanings

There are many terms and expressions used by the media and by professionals when talking about the threat of terrorism, radicalisation and extremism, it is important to understand what they mean; below is a brief introduction to a few common words and terms to assist you with any conversations you may have with your child:

Ideology: A set of beliefs.

Narrative: A narrated account; a story. The art, technique, or process of narrating views/beliefs.

Propaganda: Information, ideas, or rumours deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc.

Extremism the use of extreme behaviour to support a belief or ideology. Any idea can be taken to an extreme, often when they are, it leads to violence/harm to others.

Terrorism: the unlawful use of violence, or a threat of violence, to support a belief or ideology. Not all extremism is harmful or criminal, but some people do behave in an extreme way, going on to become terrorists.

Radicalisation: the process of someone developing extremist views which can lead to them joining extreme or terrorist groups. There is no ‘one-way’ process of radicalisation, there are often many factors or experiences which leads a person to be radicalised to participate in extremist or terrorist behaviour.

Radicaliser: Someone who encourages others to develop or adopt beliefs and views which support terrorism, and/or forms of extremism leading to terrorism.

What is the threat?

Although rare in the UK, acts of terrorism are a reality; the threat of attack on society is posed by a minority of people who encourage or glorify violence in the name of a political ideology or religion. Currently, the threat is mainly from Al–Qaida and ISIS influenced terrorists and people returning from international war zones such as Syria and Iraq.

However, other extremist groups also pose a threat to public safety and the British multi-cultural way of life, these include Far Right Extremists, Irish Dissidents; Racists; Fascists; Animal Rights Organisations; Eco-Terrorists.

What makes a child at risk?

As with all aspects of parenting, there is no handbook to determine if a child is likely to become involved in extremism; advice from professionals is to be aware of changes in your child’s behaviour, values, views and attitudes just as you would monitor any other issue or concern.

It’s not easy to gage why a child might change given that change is a normal part of growing up; changing moods, views, pushing boundaries and rebelling against authority do not mean they’re being radicalised.

It has been recognised that young people with low self-esteem, experienced bullying or isolation from peers can be vulnerable to being radicalised.

These factors can contribute to why a young person may be at risk of being radicalised or choose to join extreme groups:

  • Change in attitude and values
  • Rejection by peers of family
  • Extremist influence or pressure
  • Feelings of injustic or inequality
  • Identity confusion
  • Needing to feel part of something
  • Exposure to extreme material
  • Grievance with society
  • Social exclusion or bullying

What can I do to protect my child?

Look out for signs
We’ve already established that radicalisation isn’t easy to spot, in addition to the factors already mentioned, common signs that parents and professionals are advised by the NSPCC to look out for include:

  • Isolating themselves from family and friends
  • Talking as if from a scripted speech
  • Unwillingness or inability to discuss their views
  • A sudden disrespectful attitude towards others
  • Increased levels of anger
  • Increased secretiveness, especially around internet use.

Talk
Talking is an essential for young people to explore and understand alternative points of views to help them develop informed, balanced healthy views, values and attitudes.

They are naturally curious and opinionated, not allowing them to talk openly with you about topics like this can increase curiosity and draw them towards using other means of information such as the internet – not always the most accurate, balanced or safest way to find out more.

Keep it simple – avoid complicated and worrying explanations which may increase their fear and anxiety.

Reassure
Let your child know they can speak to you and be there to listen to their fears and worries; let them know you are willing to have an open and honest discussion with them about any thoughts and feelings they may have about extremism, radicalisation and terrorism.

Talking to your child gives you an opportunity to assess their thinking and the development of their views and values; this enables you to shape a healthy attitude whilst allowing to clarify facts and intervene if their views appears to be unhealthy, distorted or extreme.

Short Film Clips from the NSPCC to help parents talk to their child

Worried about radicalisation
Talking about terrorism

Monitor internet access
Advances in digital technology and social media are being exploited by terrorists and extreme groups as a means to radicalise people, display propaganda and spread narratives.

It is a fact that by having a smartphone, iPad or games console, your child has access to extreme content, websites and people who will want to influence them towards extreme views, increasing the risk of them becoming radicalised.

Curiosity can lead young people to search for material or be befriended by a ‘radicaliser’ posing to be a ‘regular person’ with the intention of influencing their beliefs to persuade them to join their cause. This emphasizes the need to be open with your child about online risks.

  • Explain the intentions some people may have online to radicalise or groom people.
  • Reassure them to tell you if they’re worried about contact from someone or if they something upsetting online.
  • Explain what they should do if they suspect someone is trying to radicalise/groom them.

To monitor your child’s online activity, check the browsing history on their device to see what sites they’ve accessed; this is usually located in the menu, if unsure, contact the service provider for more advice.

Positive Influences
Encourage positive ways for your child to channel their energy, focus their thinking and feel a sense of belonging to a group/team, for example sports, clubs, hobbies etc. Confidence with their identity and inclusion with other positive people can reduce the risk of developing vulnerabilities linked to radicalisation and extremism.

Responding to a terror attack: Run, Hide, Tell

As important as it is for parents to take a role in educating their children about the risk of being involved in extremism and terrorism, it is equally important they take a role in teaching them about their safety in the event of an attack.

The Home Office has created a film specifically for young people as part of the national campaign Run. Hide. Tell, which aims to raise public awareness about what to do in the event of an attack.

Parents are encouraged to share the film with their child, at an age you feel is appropriate, to help them understand what to do in the unlikely event they were caught up in an attack.

Learn more

What can I do if I have concerns about my child?

Often parents will need help or advice from expert services to keep their child safe; they may find it necessary to involve the school, college, club/youth group or the police to help address their concerns. This is perfectly understandable and often what is required to help your child.

If you have concerns that your child or a child you know may be involved in extremism or being radicalised, don’t wait until you’re certain, seek support and advice from professional services who can help assess any risk and make any necessary referrals to safeguard your child.

School/Youth worker
Professionals working with children and young people receive training to help identify signs that children may be being targeted by extremists, they are aware of the relevant services to signpost you to or refer your child to for assessment.

Hampshire Police
www.hampshire.police.uk/contact-us/
Tel: 101 for non-emergency assistance
If your child is in immediate danger call 999

NSPCC
Report concerns anonymously and access to advice and support.
https://www.nspcc.org.uk/what-you-can-do/report-abuse/dedicated-helplines/protecting-children-from-radicalisation/

Tel: 0808 800 5000 (24hrs) 24/7
Email: help@nspcc.org.uk

Education Against Hate
Website developed by the Department for Education and the Home Office to support parents and professionals providing practical advice, support and resources to protect children from extremism and radicalisation. https://educateagainsthate.com/parents/

Internet Matters
Provides advice and information for parents to talk and deal with online radicalisation.
https://www.internetmatters.org/issues/radicalisation/

Government Online Reporting
Anonymously report suspicious activity or illegal online terrorist information, pictures or videos.
https://www.gov.uk/terrorism-national-emergency/reporting-suspected-terrorism

This information provides parents, carers and guardians with advice and support regarding the issue of ‘sexting’ as part of our commitment to working in partnership to keep children and young people safe.

Recognising the importance of linking children’s learning at school and among their friends into their life at home, it is recommended you speak to your son/daughter about their safety and behaviour online.

Talking to them provides an opportunity for you to:

  • help keep them safe by understanding their ‘cyber world’ and the issues they face growing up online
  • form a relationship with them about their internet use to help you to guide and support this aspect of their upbringing
  • set boundaries and rules to help them use the internet safely and responsibly.
  • give them reassurance that they can speak to you if ever they find themselves worried or affected by anything happening to them online.

What is Sexting?

‘Sexting’ is a word which refers to ‘self-taken’ nude, semi-nude or sexual photos, videos and messages which are sent and shared over the internet.

This is not the language used by young people, they are unlikely to use the word sexting, more likely to call it sending nudes, dirty pics, sex pics, naked selfies or cybersex.

Reasons why young people say they are likely to ‘sext’:

  • see it as a ‘normal’ part of sexual exploration in modern teen culture
  • peer pressure – being directly asked to send stuff
  • fear of being laughed at or bullied if they don’t
  • expected in a relationship – if they refuse, their partner will dump them for someone else who will send stuff
  • used as trophies – the more pics on their phone, the more popular or admired they are by their friends.
  • to get the attention of someone they like, wanting to be noticed.
  • body image – seeing pics of others, thinking ‘it’s what makes you attractive’
  • part of typical risk taking behaviour – not thinking it can go wrong, or ‘it won’t happen to them’.
  • perceiving it easier to engage in nudity, sexual flirting and sex online than face to face.
  • trust in the person they’re sending it to, likely to be boy/girlfriend
  • thinking that what they send can be erased completely after it has been sent.

What are the risks to my child?

Online sexualised activity has increased among young people due to reasons such as the ones listed above. Unfortunately, what they don’t always understand or consider when getting involved in this type of behaviour, are the risks, consequences and impact sharing and posting sexual content of themselves can have when things get out of hand and goes wrong.

Loss of control
Once a young person presses send, the content they share becomes totally out of their control and virtually impossible to fully recover.

It can end up anywhere, seen by anyone, and in some cases, it can go ‘viral’ in a matter of hours, meaning it’s seen by thousands of people/strangers across the world. This situation can cause a huge amount of stress and upset to a young person and is difficult to undo.

Bullying
Self- taken content shared by a young person can be passed around to others by the person they originally sent it to and trusted; this opens up the risk of being bullied, shamed and isolated from social groups.

In some cases, the bullying gets out of control and causes severe distress and anxiety to the person being bullied and their family.

Blackmail (sextortion)
The person receiving the content sent by a young person may use it to make demands for more pictures/videos of them or of their friends by threatening to share what they’ve already with the sender’s friends, family, workplace or school/college. In some cases, the recipient may even demand money, this is known as sextortion.

Pressure caused by demands like this, and the fear of being embarrassed can lead to considerable distress and anxiety which can leave a young person feeling helpless and desperate.

Risky attention
Sexual content of children and young people being posted and shared online attracts the attention of sexual predators and offenders. This type of person knows how to approach, engage and manipulate young victims as well as search for, collect and modify images of children.

Offenders are known to trick, stalk, harass and exploit young people who have posted sexual content of themselves online.

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)
Describes when children and young people are sexually exploited by an adult who engages them through the internet, social media or in person, with the aim of forming trusting friendships/relationships with them for the intention of exploiting them for sex or sexual content.

Adult perpetrators play on young people’s naivety and vulnerabilities, tricking them into believing they care for them, love them and can trust them; using this trust to manipulate and coerce young people to send sexual content of themselves, and in cases, content of their friends too.

Online exploitation has increased with advances in social media technology, alongside an increase in the trend among young people to have ‘older boyfriends/girlfriends’.

Effects on Mental Health and Wellbeing
As already mentioned in examples above, the consequences of sharing nude, sexual pictures and video content can have a serious impact on the mental health and wellbeing of young people. The feeling of being embarrassed, humiliated, threatened, bullied or blackmailed can lead to depression, self-harm and in extreme cases suicide.

What is the Law?

Young people need to be aware that taking, possessing, sharing, showing and distributing indecent images of a child U18 is an offence, even when they have taken it of themselves; and that they don’t need to be an adult to commit this offence – sexual offences against a child U18 can be committed by a child U18.

Prosecution
The law recognises that most cases of sexting happen because of the growing trend of taking ‘selfies’ and how it forms part of online sexual exploration in a modern digital society; sharing pictures with boyfriends and girlfriends has become part of their social and sexual development. With awareness of this, when dealing with reported cases of sexting, police will:

  • not treat this as a criminal act in the sense of the young people involved committing sexual harm to a child, creating child pornography or having a sexual interest in children.
  • always avoid prosecuting and criminalising young people for sharing content of themselves in cases where it is ‘experimental’ – meaning it has happened within a consensual, age-appropriate relationship.
  • always look to safeguard young people first and foremost, avoiding formal action and using alternative approaches to protect, educate and intervene.

In cases where there are ‘aggravating’ factors, it may be necessary for the police to take formal action with the young people involved, meaning they could be charged with an offence. Aggravating factors include wide age gaps, blackmail, and threats.

It is important young people know this as a criminal record can impact their future as explained below.

Future Employment and Travel
When a case is reported to the police, investigated, a crime is confirmed to have happened and a young person is charged, they will have a criminal record which will be disclosed on a CRB check in the future.

If charges are not bought against the young person, it is important they know that details of the case will still be recorded as a crime with no formal action taken, and will be held on police record.

Although a police record is not a criminal record, enhanced levels of vetting in the future may still disclose details to future employers or travel departments.

What can I do as a parent?

In a fast changing world, we recognise it is not easy to have discussions of this nature with your child, however, talking is so important to having good understanding and building a relationship with your child about their life online and in the real world. Below are some key points to help parents and carers:

Talk
Bringing up the topic of sending nude, semi-nude or sexual content online is awkward but necessary for you to understand your child’s thoughts, feelings, views and experiences to see how best you can support and direct them to know what to do if ever they find themselves pressured or affected by this.

Value these discussions as an opportunity to ask them what they know, how they keep themselves safe to assess if they act responsibly online.

Listen…. you can find out what they know, what they need to know and reassure them that they should come to you immediately if something ever makes them feel uncomfortable, worried or goes wrong for them.

The NSPCC provides guidance for parents on how to approach the conversation of sexting.

Educate yourself
Understanding the different apps and social media platforms your child may be using is helpful for when you talk with them about their online use. If you don’t know what you are talking about, you can’t advise and protect them effectively.

Net Aware is a site for parents from O2 and the NSPCC which provides an A-Z guide to social networks to help you stay up to date and keep your child safe in today’s digital world.

Learn and stay safe together
There is a wealth of advice and support available online for young people and their parents about the risks and dangers of the internet, from speaking with strangers to sending nude pictures.

It is encouraged that parents and their children explore these together as part of forming a relationship around internet use, safety and responsibilities.

The National Crime Agency’s Child Exploitation Online Protection department (CEOP) has produced some excellent information and videos for young people and parents to watch together and discuss which can be found on the Thinkuknow website; videos relevant to this topic include  ‘Exposed’ and Consequences.

Reassure
It is very important your child knows you are always there to support them if ever they feel worried or pressured by anyone or any situation and they feel confident to come to you without fear of getting into trouble or judged. This can be crucial to their safety and wellbeing as where reassurance is not there, children find it difficult to ask for help in risky or challenging situations; not seeking help early-on can worsen the situation and the overall impact on them.

Take control
Setting up parental controls and installing safety apps on your child’s phone can help you keep them safe.

While it is important to be supportive and trusting of your child’s internet use, it helps to know how to set controls if ever you need to block access to certain sites or monitor your child’s activity.

The ‘Let’s keep kids safe online’ hub provided by O2 and the NSPCC provides articles on everything including setting up parental controls. They offer a free helpline or access to O2 Gurus in-store who can help. 

Support Services

Hampshire Police
www.hampshire.police.uk/contact-us/
Tel: 101 for non-emergency assistance
If your child is in immediate danger call 999

Victim Support
https://www.victimsupport.org.uk/
Tel: 0845 30 30 900
8am – 8pm Mon-Fri; 9am – 7pm weekends; 9am – 5pm bank holidays

Additional information and tools for parents

NSPCC
Help for adults concerned about a child
Tel: 0808 800 5000

Alice’s Diary
Child Sexual Exploitation campaign from Hampshire Constabulary

Child Exploitation Online Protection (CEOP)
Provides information and videos for young people and parents through and education website called ThinkuKnow

Parent Info
Collaboration between Parentzone (digital support group) and CEOP

Vodaphone
Digital Parenting E-magazine

EE/T-Mobile & Orange
Information on keeping children safe online for children and their parents and content on the Internet Matters and EE e-safety website.

Three (phones & tablets)
Advice and instructions about making your child’s device safe

Safety Apps

Selfie Cop for parents
Free camera-safety alert app for your child’s phone. Reviews photos your child sends for risk and sends you a copy of every photo/video they take.

The app is designed to deter children from temptation or pressure to send inappropriate photos and detect unsafe behaviour. SelfieCop is not spyware, it is a safeguarding tool the child knows is there.

Zipit for kids
Free app created by the NSPCC, Zipit empowers kids to take control when asked to send nudes online by providing fun Gifs, images, quotes and comebacks instead.

This information provides parents, carers and guardians with advice and support relating to teenage relationship abuse as part of our commitment to working in partnership to keep children and young people safe.

Recognising the importance of linking your child’s learning at school and from their friends to their life at home, it is recommended you talk to your son/daughter about what makes a relationship healthy and safe as relationship abuse is a rising concern among teenagers.

Talking to your child provides an opportunity for you to help them:

  • understand qualities that make a relationship loving, respectful and safe, to apply these to their relationships now and in the future.
  • understand signs of abuse in a relationship and the consequences an ‘unhealthy’ and ‘unsafe’ relationship can have for them.
  • know how to spot the positive and negative signs in a relationship to protect themselves from becoming a victim or an abuser (perpetrator).
  • know they can always speak to you if they find themselves confused, worried or concerned by what’s happening in their relationship
  • know where and how they can get help and support from other specialist services if ever they need to.

What is Teen Relationship Abuse?

This is a term given to abusive behaviour taking place in a relationship between two teens.

Surprisingly, this isn’t as uncommon as many parents think, research by organisations such as the NSPCC show a rise in the number of teens who report to have experienced sexual or physical abuse from their teen partner.

As well as sexual or physical, other forms of abuse include, but not limited to:

  • threats / insults
  • emotional abuse
  • isolation from friends and family
  • controlling what they wear or who they socialise with
  • monitoring and controlling where they are/what they are doing

Controlling behaviour is likely to escalate into violence and patterns of abusive behaviour.

Teenage relationship abuse is often hidden because teens:

  • have little experience of relationships so may not recognise abuse
  • have ‘romantic’ views of love so may ignore / excuse abuse
  • can be under pressure from their peers to act cool about everything
  • accept the abuse for fear of, or in preference to, being single

What are the risks to my child?

The risks to teens in relationships varies from exploitation, physical and emotional harm through to a police or criminal record. It is important your child is aware of these to help them develop the skills needed to assess risky situations and keep themselves safe.

Victim or abuser
Teens are at risk of being abused, or abusing their teenage partners at any point growing up, regardless of gender. Research suggests it is more common for girls to be victims of abuse in teen relationships, however, boys are definitely at risk, just less likely to report it. Girls are equally as capable as boys of being the abuser in relationships.

Mental Health and Wellbeing
Abuse in a relationship can have a huge impact on a teenager’s physical and mental wellbeing. Victims often describe the effects of feeling isolated, helpless, scared, and worthless, leading to severe anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol problems, self-harm and in extreme cases suicide.

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) – ‘Older Boyfriend’
Although the term CSE is often thought of as an adult forming a trusting friendship / relationship with a young person U18 with the intention of exploiting them for sex / sexual purposes, this form of abuse can still happen between teens. For example, the ‘trend’ among young people of having an older boy/girlfriend:

‘A 14 year old in a relationship with a 17 year old who is abusive towards him/her. The 17 year old but makes him/her believe they love and care for them and that they can trust them; they use this trust to manipulate and control the 14 year old to do whatever the older partner wants them to do which will often relate to sexual acts and behaviours.’

Sexual Health
Relationship abuse can also have a significant affect a teen’s sexual health ranging from risk-taking sexual behaviour to unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.

Committing offences
Teens who abuse their partners could be charged with offences as a result of their behaviour; it is important your child is fully aware that details of cases reported to police will be held on record and can be disclosed in the future to prospective employers when applying for jobs, or to visa departments when applying to travel abroad.

What is the Law?

As with the term domestic abuse, teen relationship abuse itself is not an offence; it is the acts and behaviours the abuser subjects their victim to which determines the offence, i.e. assault, theft, harassment and criminal damage.

What makes teen relationship abuse different to domestic abuse in law is age; the definition of domestic abuse in law applies to people over 16 years old.

  • Where couples are over 16 years old, investigations and offences are likely to be dealt with as a domestic abuse related case.
  • Where couples are 13 years and above, but both under 16 years old, investigations and offences will not be dealt with as domestic abuse.
  • Where the ages of teen couples are wider, i.e. 13 years old and 17 years old, cases will not be dealt with as domestic abuse related but can be dealt with as child exploitation.

Impact of criminal investigation or conviction
Any offence committed against a person under 18 years old is serious and will be dealt with as such, even when the offender is also under 18 years old.
It is important your child knows that being investigated, whether charged or not charged with an offence, can impact their future work and travel prospects.

When a case is reported to police, investigated and leads to a young person being charged with an offence, they will have a criminal record. This record can be disclosed in vetting checks in the future and can impact on certain opportunities such as working with children.

When a young person is investigated but not charged, details will still be recorded and held on police record, this is not a criminal record.
Although not a criminal record, your child needs to know that details of their involvement can still be disclosed to future employers or travel departments when enhanced levels of vetting is requested.

What can I do as a parent?

In a fast changing world, it’s not easy to discuss topics like this with your child, but little things you can do to help them learn can really benefit their future.
Below are some key pointers to support parents to help their children:

Talk
Knowing there are risks to young people in their relationships as they grow up, highlights the importance of talking to your child about their life now and in the future. Talking is an opportunity raise their awareness of the signs of abuse in relationships to help them know how to identify signs of abuse, and to know what makes a safe and loving relationship. Discussing this with your child can help them develop the skills and knowledge to recognise risk and know what to do to keep themselves safe.

Educate yourself
Learning more about teen relationship abuse yourself will give you a good understanding to help you discuss this with your child; in particular, why it happens, signs, effects, the law and getting support. Below is some information about teen relationship abuse to support you.

Signs that a teen may be being abused by their partner can include, but are not limited to:

  • being angry or irritable when asked how things are
  • being withdrawn or quieter than usual
  • changing their appearance, clothes, make up or style
  • constantly checking a mobile phone, and getting upset when asked to turn it off
  • isolation – no longer spending time with family/usual friends
  • making excuses for a boyfriend or girlfriend
  • self-harm
  • signs of physical injury, unexplained scratches or bruises
  • truancy or falling grades

Peer pressure and the desire to have a partner can also play a part in relationship abuse; teens can feel they’d rather have a boy/girlfriend who is abusive them than to not have a partner at all.

Types of abuse in a relationship can include, but are not limited to:

  • checking up on you all the time to find out where you are and who you’re with – often by mobile phone / social media
  • gets angry and aggressive, trouble controlling emotions
  • gets physical or forceful in arguments
  • jealous and possessive
  • looking at your phone without your permission
  • physical violence – hitting, kicking, pushing, slapping
  • pressuring into sex
  • telling you what to wear and what to do
  • verbally abusive, says things to make you feel bad or inadequate
  • won’t let you see friends

Controlling and possessive behaviour can happen over time, your teen may not recognise this as unhealthy or as abuse, possibly viewing it as ‘something they should put up with’, normalising the behaviour, or seeing it as their partner ‘only messing around’.

These behaviours are not signs of love or caring, they are controlling and intended to have power of a person.

Ensure your child understands they are never to blame if someone tries to make them do things that they don’t want to do. Likewise, the abuser in a relationship may not recognise their behaviour as abuse, seeing it as normal or not meaning it, only messing around.

It is important your child knows that if they behave in a way that is abusive, it is not right and they should seek support to address any reasons/issues they think may contribute to the abusive behaviour.

Reassure
It is important to tell your child that they can come to you at any time for support if ever they find themselves worried or pressured by anyone or any situation.

This reassurance can give the confidence to come to you without fear of being judged, knowing they will have your support in any risky or challenging situation. Without reassurance, children can find it difficult to ask for help – not seeking help early-on can worsen a situation and the overall impact on them.

Support Services

Many organisations provide help and advice for parents talk to teens and how best to approach abuse in relationships, with some specifically set up for teens affected by abuse, some are listed here for your information:

Hampshire Police
Tel: 101 for non-emergency assistance
If your child is in immediate danger call 999

Victim Support
Tel: 0845 30 30 900 8am – 8pm Mon-Fri; 9am – 7pm weekends; 9am – 5pm bank holidays

NSPCC
Help for adults concerned about a child
Call 0808 800 5000

Karma Nirvana
Supporting victims of honour based abuse and forced marriages
Tel: 0800 5999 247 (Mon to Fri 09:30 -17:00)

NHS
Advice for parents and young people.

National Domestic Violence Helpline
Freephone 0808 2000 247 (for teens and young people as well)

Respect
Support for those who cause harm their partners
Mens advice line: 0808 801 032
Respect hotline: 0808 802 4040

Services for young people

Childline
Free confidential service for young people under 19, provided by NSPCC
Tel: 0800 11 11

Catch22
Provides a wide range of support services designed to help resolve complex difficulties experienced by young people and their families/carers

No limits (Southampton)
Free confidential service for young people in Southampton
Phone: 02380 224 224

Safer Portsmouth
Advice and support for domestic abuse
Tel: 023 9268 8472

Treetops Centre
Service available to any male or female, 13+ who has been a victim of rape or serious sexual assault in Hampshire and IOW.
Tel: 023 9221 0352 (7 days a week, 8.00am to 6.00pm)

Additional information for parents and teens

Disrespect Nobody
Safe4me supports the Disrespect Nobody campaign, a dedicated website for teens to tackle the issue of teenage relationship abuse.

‘Alice’s Diary’
Child Sexual Exploitation campaign from Hampshire Constabulary.

This information provides parents, carers and guardians with advice and support relating to youth related sexual harassment and assault as part of our commitment to working in partnership to keep children and young people safe.

Recognising the importance of linking children’s learning at school and among their friends into their life at home, it is recommended you speak to your son/daughter about sexual behaviour (within a similar age group) to help them understand when certain actions or comments could cause harm and could be seen as harassment/assault.

Education and awareness raising can prevent your child being involved in sexual offences as they grow up, either as an offender or as a victim.

Talking to them provides an opportunity for you to:

  • Help them understand what behaviour is harmful including ‘sexual harassment and assault’
  • Educate about safe and positive choices to avoid becoming a victim or an offender
  • Inform them of where and how to get help and support from services
  • Reassure them they can speak to you if ever they find themselves worried or affected by these issues.

What is Teen Sexual Harm?

“Any behaviour of a sexual nature, between under 18s, of any gender, which causes harassment or assault to another child or group of children”.

 When referring to ‘behaviour of a sexual nature’, this can include a wide range of actions which can often be unintentional, mistaken or excused by young people as ‘a bit of a joke’ or ‘banter’, but their actions can have a huge effect on the those they target.

Typical behaviours can include but are not limited to:

As well as sexual or physical, other forms of abuse include, but not limited to:

Sexual comments

  • telling sexual stories
  • making sexual comments
  • making sexual remarks about clothes and appearance
  • calling someone sexualised names
  • sexual “jokes” or taunting

Physical behaviour

  • simulating sexual acts
  • deliberately brushing against someone
  • interfering with someone’s personal space and appropriate boundaries
  • displaying pictures, photo or videos of a sexual nature (pornography)
  • groping and inappropriate touching
  • forceful or aggressive sexual behaviour

Online sexual harassment

  • non-consensual sharing of sexual images and videos
  • sharing sexual images and videos (often referred to as sexting)
  • inappropriate sexual comments on social media
  • exploitation, coercion and threats

What are the risks to my child?

There are concerns nationally about an increase in sexualised behaviour and offences being committed among under 18s both in school and in their social life. The number of reported sexual offences by under 18s against other under 18s in England and Wales rose by 71% between 2013 and 2017, and the number of sexual offences on school premises also increased by 138% from 386 to 922 offences.

Therefore any child can be at risk of this kind of sexual harm; these can include:

Being a victim or offender

The risk to young people becoming a victim, or an offender is present in most of their social situations; from being in school or college, ‘hanging out’ or attending parties.

The risk of becoming an offender depends on the sexual behaviour towards their friends; having fun and being curious is a natural part of growing up, but it is important to know boundaries and the ‘line’ which shouldn’t be crossed – being clear on when ‘a bit of fun’ could be degrading, offensive or upsetting for the person involved.

The risk of becoming a victim is often related to peer pressure, feeling that they ‘have to go along with it’ to stay part of the crowd, it’s expected in a relationship or they have seen others doing the same and accept it as ‘normal’ and not say anything to challenge it.

Knowing what ‘the line’ is can be confusing and unclear for both/all young people involved, often lacking understanding or consideration about what it is harmful, inappropriate or the consequences it can have.

The situations and behaviours commonly associated to sexual offences which young people need to be aware of can include but are not limited to:

Rape
House/Prom parties/Facebook parties
Influence of alcohol/drugs affecting ability to consent
Peer/group pressure
Sexting/filming of act

Sexual assault
Out socialising/parks/social clubs
In school/college/classroom
On public transport/travelling
Grabbing/groping/pinching
Sexual touching

Sexual Harassment
Making inappropriate suggestions
Showing/sending sexual content
Sexual pestering – in person or online

Effects on Mental Health and Wellbeing

The impact sexual harm can have on a person’s physical and mental wellbeing is huge. Victims often find themselves feeling isolated, lost, weak, scared, helpless and worthless, often leading to severe anxiety, depression, self-harm and in extreme cases suicide.

It is important that young people are aware that their behaviour can create an atmosphere that, if not challenged, can normalise inappropriate behaviours and provide an environment that may lead to sexual offending.

Teen sexual harm – if not addressed during teenage years, can be linked to adult offending such as domestic abuse, rape and other serious sexual offences.

What is the Law?

Police Investigation
In cases where teen sexual harm is reported the priority is to safeguard all young persons involved, above criminalisation, using a multi-agency response to educate and protect from further harm. Police will always seek to resolve reported cases without a formal sanction, which can impact a young person’s future. However, in serious cases this may not be avoidable.

Charges and convictions
In cases where formal action is necessary, it is important young people know that being charged with an offence will result in having a criminal record which can impact their future, and this is also disclosable in a CRB vetting check, and can limit certain opportunities such as travel abroad, and working with children.

If the young person investigated is not charged, the crime will still be recorded and details will be held on police record, this is not a criminal record, however, young people need to know that enhanced levels of vetting may still disclose details of their involvement in a case to future employers or travel departments.

When should I be concerned?
It’s normal for children and young people to display sexual behaviours as they grow up, but sometimes they may behave in ways inappropriate for their age and stage of development – this is referred to as ‘Harmful Sexual Behaviour’, which can take place at school, at home, at social events and online

In a recent report by NSPCC (“Is this sexual abuse?” NSPCC helplines report 2018), they mention contact from parents concerned about their child/another child displaying sexualised behaviour which they did not feel confident to decide was normal or harmful, and weren’t sure of the best way to respond to it.

Parents will have to take a common sense approach to deciding this – is a young child just exploring or does an older child have an unhealthy attitude towards sex and relationships?

Below are some indicators and concerns which may assist you, but if you’re unsure about your child’s sexual behaviour, talk to the NSPCC, your child’s teacher or a health professional for further advice.

11 years and under
In the same report, the NSPCC state that calls to their helpline were mostly about children U11 years – given younger children lack knowledge of sex and sexuality due to their age, this makes it more difficult for them and others to recognise sexual assault.

The most common behaviours reported to the NSPCC are:

  • using sexually explicit language inappropriate for their age
  • sexualised role-play/games
  • exposing private parts to other children
  • inappropriate sexual touching
  • simulating sexual acts
  • older children involving younger children to perform/watch sexual acts
  • creating and sharing sexually explicit images
  • Sexual assault, including rape.

When questioned, many children referred to another, often older, child they had spent time with, whose behaviour they said they were copying, or that the other child had encouraged them into sexual activities – not always having a clear understanding of why the actions are inappropriate.

For primary aged children, peer sexual assault was more likely to be a one-off incident taking place in school, for example being touched inappropriately by another child or seeing another child expose themselves in the changing rooms or toilets; in the playground; on school buses; and in classrooms.

12 years plus
Those who display harmful sexual behaviour may not recognise they’re doing so, and those who experience it may realise it makes them feel unhappy or unsafe, but they aren’t always clear about how to deal with it as often the person may be a friend; boyfriend or girlfriend; ex-partner; or another young person U18 not related to them.

This conflict is not helped by the confusion and misunderstanding caused by puberty as relationships and feelings change and can lead to offences and harm.

Older children report that they experience peer sexual assault at school over longer periods of time, as well as in public spaces, such as parks; at other young people’s houses; at parties (alcohol); and online.

The most common complaints include:

  • sexual bullying
  • sexually explicit language
  • threats of sexual abuse
  • consent

Consent is a big issue relating to sexual assault – many young people say they are confused about consent, often worried about jeopardising their relationships if they don’t agree to sex/sexual activity – some say there is an assumption that, consent is automatically given in a relationship.

Young people who have been sexually assaulted by a partner often talk about other types of abuse, such as emotional and physical abuse including behaviours which are controlling, manipulating, threatening, jealous, violent, aggressive, coercive and insulting.

It is important to ensure your child is aware of consent and what behaviour is healthy in a relationship – this can help them avoid being a victim or offender now or in their future.

Parties organised through Facebook
Hampshire Police has dealt with incidents in recent months where young girls have attended a parties organised by people not known to them, usually through Facebook. They attend these parties not knowing anyone, and when there have had their drink spiked and have subsequently been sexually assaulted. Please talk to your child about attending parties when they are organised through third parties. Always find out where they are going and who they are going with.

What can I do as a parent?

It is crucial to discuss with children so they are aware of what is and is not acceptable behaviour – both in terms of being offender and/or victim.

We know it is not easy to discuss topics such as sexual harassment or sexual assault with your child, but there a numerous benefits of openly talking to them about this issue which include educating and empowering them to develop skills needed to make safe and responsible choices growing up. It is important that schools and colleges consider sexual harassment in broad terms. Sexual harassment (as set out earlier) creates an atmosphere that, if not challenged, can normalise inappropriate behaviours and provide an environment that may lead to sexual violence.

Talk
Talking provides an opportunity to help them understand what makes a safe and loving relationship, and to know what makes it unsafe and unhealthy. If no one helps them understand the difference, they will find it difficult to develop the skills to know if they are a victim or an offender.

Educate
When talking to your child about these issues, it is important to include information about risks, consequences, and the law (as provided in the above sections).

Reassure
It is so important your child knows you are always there to support them in life if ever they find themselves worried or pressured by anyone or any situation; this gives confidence when it’s needed, to come to you at any time without fear of being judged, knowing they can confide in you and have your support in any risky or challenging situation.

For parents concerned about their child’s sexualised behaviour
https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/child-abuse-and-neglect/harmful-sexual-behaviour/signs-symptoms-effects/

Support Services

Hampshire Police
Tel: 101 for non-emergency assistance
If your child is in immediate danger call 999

Victim Support
Tel: 0845 30 30 900 8am – 8pm Mon-Fri; 9am – 7pm weekends; 9am – 5pm bank holidays

NSPCC
Help for adults concerned about a child
Call 0808 800 5000

Share Aware: nspcc.org.uk/shareaware gives parents the skills and confidence to talk to their children about staying safe online.

Net Aware: net-aware.org.uk is a guide to the social networks children use, giving parents advice about features like privacy settings, safety, and reporting problems.

The NSPCC website offers advice to parents about healthy sexual behaviour and talking about difficult topics. nspcc.org.uk/healthy-sexual-behaviour
nspcc.org.uk/talkingtips

The Mix
Online and telephone support for young people on a variety of topics.

Radio One
Advice and information on a variety of topics for young people.

Services for young people

The Survivors Trust
Tel 0808 801 0818. (Mon-Thurs 10am-4pm & 6pm-8pm/Fri 10am-4pm)
The Survivors Trust (TST) is a UK-wide national umbrella agency for 130 specialist organisations for support for the impact of rape, sexual violence and childhood sexual abuse throughout the UK and Ireland.

Childline
Free confidential service for young people under 19, provided by NSPCC
Tel: 0800 11 11