What can I do to help my child?

Many parents feel powerless and are unsure how they can help their child if they’ve been a victim or witness of crime. Involving other agencies can be a positive step to help you get the right support for your child, and organisations like Victim Support can work with you to help you achieve this.

Here are some practical things you can do to support your child.

A safety plan will help your child to think about their actions in advance, to help them stay safe. It can be useful in any situation where your child may feel unsafe. This can include if they are:

  • being bullied, threatened or hurt
  • in an abusive relationship
  • witnessing domestic violence.

A safety plan needs to be about your child and their own individual situation. Help them to think about all aspects of their life, such as being safe at school, at home, when travelling, online, in the day, or at night. The plan should be easy for them to understand and remember.

Your child should not be expected to safety plan alone, and they will need help from others, including you, on some of their actions. You can work with your child to look at their own individual situation and think through the risks they are facing.

Support your child by downloading Keeping Safe, an information booklet to help your child think through ways to keep safe and develop a safety plan with you, and by looking at the Victim Support’s Children and Young People Services page ‘What is a safety plan?’.

Being a victim of crime can be tough. Every child and young person is an individual, so can be affected by crime in their own way. Different crimes can affect your child differently too. It’s important to remind your child that whatever they are feeling is okay, that things can and will get better, and that there are a lot of people who can help.

When children have positive routines and consistent support they are often much more able to cope.

Here are some practical things you can do to help your child cope.

Spending set time every evening checking in with them about their day

Help them see the positives and work through their worries. Do this at a relaxed and uninterrupted time not too close to bedtime.

Helping your child get enough sleep

An anxious child may struggle with sleep and bedtime routines. Having an hour wind down time before bed that includes bath, reading, listening to music or playing can help reduce anxiety and prepare them for sleep.

Helping your child to eat healthily

Ensuring that your child is well fed with nutritious food helps maintain their physical well-being and provides them with energy and focus for their day. The process of cooking together can encourage quality time and be fun too.

Monitoring their use of computers, television and mobiles

Children can access images, conversations and information online that could raise anxieties and feel overwhelming and frightening. At the same time, the internet has some great sites that can help young people work through their anxieties and get good and safe information. Ensuring that children are able to access these while monitoring any negative web activity will help children remain safe and well informed.

Helping your child develop positive friendships and engage in positive activities

Friendships and engaging in positive activities are especially important to children and a crucial part of their development of positive self-esteem, confidence and independence. Helping your child access groups, youth clubs and after-school activities will help them develop their talents and find other people who like the same things as them.

Family time

You may feel that your child prefers to spend time with their friends than you. However, having fun family time is as important and helps maintain good communication. It doesn’t have to be expensive – dancing around the living room, playing board games, listening to music, playing football in the street or going to the park can build relationships.

Extended family support

Helping your child have regular access to aunts and uncles, grandparents and siblings can help build children’s safety networks and feel supported by a range of adults. It also gives your child options about who to talk to when they need to talk.

Accessing specialist health and support services if needed

If your child seems very low in mood, or unable to manage their feelings, and you have tried some of the strategies above then it’s important that you access specialist help. Your GP is a good starting point as they can refer you to a range of emotional health support services.

Any parent whose child has been affected by crime can contact us for guidance and support.

In some areas of the country we have specialist caseworkers and volunteers who can work directly with your child and offer support to help them think through their choices, safety plan, develop coping strategies, and cope and recover from their experiences. If we feel that there is another agency better placed to work with you or your child then we will always help you to access these services.

Resources and toolkits available to parents.

Help and support for young people experiencing crime.