The most common signs a young person is being sexually exploited are:
- receiving unexplained gifts or gifts from unknown sources
- having multiple cell phones or being given cell phones by other people
- having unaffordable new things (clothes, cell phone) or expensive habits (alcohol, drugs)
- changes in the way they dress
- going to hotels or other unusual locations to meet friends
- having older friends or partners
- withdrawing from family and friends
- increased absence from school
- withdrawing from activities they would normally have engaged in
- being protective of a new partner or friend but providing little information when asked about the relationship
- being private about online activity and contacts
Remember: Exploitation can happen slowly over time through a variety of different relationships. For example, friends, partners, drug dealers, family members. What’s more, many people don’t realize they are being exploited until they have been exploited for a while. This often makes it more difficult for them to get out. Looking out for these signs may help you spot someone who is on the verge of being or is being sexually exploited .
If you are worried you or someone you know is being sexually exploited you should talk to someone.