Northamptonshire Police has issued advice for parents and carers ahead of the summer holidays.
There’s a particular focus on exposure to gangs.
The force says there’s been several incidents of children going missing in recent weeks – so adults need to be aware of the potential risks to young people.
They want anyone going missing to be reported to them as soon as possible – to minimise the links to child sexual exploitation.
A list of warning signs has also been issued.
• Becomes especially secretive/ stops seeing their usual friends/ has really sharp, severe mood swings
• Develops relationships with older men and/or women (although not all perpetrators are older)
• Goes missing from home and is reluctant to say where they have been or what they have been doing
• Stays out all night
• Receives calls and messages from outside their normal circle of friends
• Has new, expensive items that they couldn’t afford, such as mobile phones, iPods or jewellery – as well as ‘invisible’ or ‘virtual’ gifts such as phone credit and online gaming credits
• Suddenly changes their taste in dress or music
• Looks tired or unwell and sleeps at unusual hours
• Has marks or scars on their body, which they try to hide
• Starts using a different ‘street language’ or name.
• Specific dress style
• Associating with new groups of people, but giving little information about them
• Poor behaviour
• Talking differently – new slang or language with an aggressive tone
• Poor school results or skipping school
• Carrying weapons
• Unexplained injuries or sums of money/possessions
• Staying out unusually late, or not returning
• Graffiti style tags on possessions
• Interest in music which glorifies weapons/gang culture