A plurality (45%) of parents in Northern Ireland believe that there are children being sexually exploited in their area, according to a YouGov poll commissioned by Barnardo’s.
In Northern Ireland, 45% of parents aged 18 to 64 think there are children in their local area who are being sexually exploited. This is compared to less than one in seven (13%) who do not believe this is occurring.
- A plurality (45%) of parents in Northern Ireland think children are being sexually exploited in their area
- 13% of Northern Irish parents reject this claim
- Over four in ten (40%) are unsure
The poll also revealed what parents in Northern Ireland believe are the most powerful signs that their child may be being sexually exploited, with an overwhelming majority (74%) saying that a telling sign is if their child were to behave in an inappropriately sexual way.
- Almost three-quarters (74%) of parents in Northern Ireland consider their child acting in an inappropriately sexual manner to be a sign that they may be being sexually exploited
- Two-thirds (69%) say a telling sign would be if their child appeared with unexpected gifts or new possessions
- Almost six in ten (58%) think that their child going missing for long periods of time is a powerful sign
- Nearly half (46%) of parents in Northern Ireland believe that their child associating with older teenagers and adults could signal sexual exploitation
- 42% consider their child regularly returning home late as a telling sign
However, over four in ten (42%) parents in Northern Ireland did not consider regularly returning home late or associating with older teenagers or adults to be signs of child sexual exploitation.
Manager of Barnardo’s Northern Ireland Safe Choices Service Jacqui Montgomery-Devlin said, “This is a horrible and pernicious crime that everybody needs to be aware of. Vulnerable girls and boys who crave love and attention are groomed then abused in the most callous and calculated way, leaving them deeply traumatised and possibly scarred for life. Yet victims continue to go unidentified as tell-tale signs are overlooked.”
Barnardo’s is a charity that works with children and young people who are at risk of/are being sexually exploited.