Working with young victims of crime
Children and young people are disproportionately more likely to be victims of crime, particularly the most serious crime. They often experience these crimes in their homes, schools and communities, in places and sometimes by people that should keep them safe. Therefore, it is highly likely that children you work with may be affected by crime or are at high risk of becoming victims of crime, particularly in relation to:
- child sexual exploitation
- child abuse
- violent crime
- gang-related crime
- domestic abuse
- robbery / theft
Last year alone, the number of child victims of serious crime, abuse or neglect would fill 3,300 classrooms. The Crime Survey for England and Wales identified in 2014 that while only 15% of children report crime to the police, most will report to a teacher or trusted professional, so it’s important that you feel equipped to support a child who discloses that they are a victim of crime.
Identifying warning signs
Often if children become victims of crime, even if they don’t realise they are a victim, there can be tell-tale signs. Not all young people will react in the same way, and victims and witnesses of crime of all ages may go through different emotions, from shock and anger to denial and depression. You may notice they have trouble sleeping, lose their appetite, feel scared or have panic attacks.
Use our checklist ‘Identifying changes in children’ to recognise some of the main warning signs to watch out for. This list does not necessarily mean that the child or young person is a victim or witness of crime - there may be other reasons for a change in their behaviour - but it is a good guide to highlight that they may need some support or help. Email us at email@example.com to get a copy of the guide.
Talking to a child
There are some strategies that will help you when thinking about talking to a child about any concerns you might have.
Know the best time to talk to the child
Don’t highlight the need to talk to the child in front of others. Find a suitable time to pull the child aside without drawing attention. Think about the child and when they are more likely to talk – is it in the morning or afternoon?