The detective in charge of tackling child sexual exploitation in South Yorkshire has urged parents to look out for signs their children are being groomed for sex.
Temporary detective superintendent Phil Etheridge was speaking at a briefing about how child sexual exploitation is being tackled by South Yorkshire Police after the force came in for criticism last year.
He said: “What parents should be looking for is a change in behaviour. Most teenagers change to some extent but are they coming back with gifts they can’t afford? have they got a new phone that’s internet ready? have they changed their physical appearance? “All children want to experiment in their teenage years to achieve adulthood but I’m talking about massive changes - is your innocent 12-year-old girl dressing inappropriately for her age?”
Parents should also listen for their daughters having inappropriate conversations about sex, or asking questions about their sexual health.
“Have they had a pregnancy or a miscarriage, and if they have got pregnant, do you know who the boyfriend is?” he added.
“Watch for your child being withdrawn. We know once these criminals start to victimise girls they start to withdraw them from their friends.”
He urged concerned parents to contact their council’s child sexual exploitation team or speak to a charity such as Barnardos.
“If they are really worried they should inform the police,” he said.