The Crime Survey for England and Wales estimates that more than one in ten children aged 10 to 15 are victims of crime.
It can be difficult to know how to respond when your child has been the victim of a crime, or if they have been affected by one. You may also be a victim yourself or feel angry and upset about what happened. Your child could be frightened to talk about what happened or they might not recognise they are a victim.
The types of crimes children may be victim of include:
- Grooming and Child sexual exploitation
- Hate Crime
- Sexual Assault
Who should I report crime to?
If your child has been a victim of crime, they can report this to the police, no matter how minor the offence may appear to be. Young people can also contact the Fearless service to pass on information about crime anonymously. It may be reassuring to your child to know that a crime has been reported and there could be the possibility of catching the perpetrator.
Sometimes a child may have got caught up in anti-social behaviour that has led to them being in a dangerous situation. If you are concerned that your child, or a child you work with, is at risk of falling victim to crime because they are not being properly protected, you should consider reporting this to the Children's Single Point of Access.
Domestic abuse is also a criminal offence
Domestic abuse encompasses many different ways of controlling or harming another person, including emotionally, physically and financially. Children might witness this going on between their parents, other family members or be targeted themselves. Children are negatively impacted by being exposed to domestic abuse and may need professional support to help them cope with their experiences.
Surrey against Domestic Abuse provides support for adults and children who have experienced domestic abuse in the past or present.
How can I talk to my child about the crime and their feelings about it?
Victim Support suggests that while it's important not to push children to open up, to encourage them to talk you can:
- Make sure they know they can talk to you and that you won't be angry with them.
- Give them time and space and listen properly to what they say.
- Don't judge.
Children may also like to talk to a confidential helpline such as Childline.
What support is available after the crime has been reported?
Anyone under the age of 18 is entitled to additional support in court along with those who are:
- Afraid to give evidence
- A victim of a sexual offence
Your child can be protected while giving evidence, so that they do not have to come face to face with the defendant in court. Further details about how this works and how to arrange it can be found on the Gov.uk extra protection in the courtroom web page.
This is a way of giving young people who have been affected by crime an opportunity to communicate about the harm that has been done to them and consider how it can be repaired.
This could be beneficial to your child if they want to ask the perpetrator questions only they can answer, and it can also give the perpetrator an opportunity to explain why they carried out the crime.
These meetings can take place face to face, or through letter or email. There is no age restriction, though consent of parents is usually sought for those under 18. The appropriateness of a victim to go through this process is always considered in each individual instance.
Services who offer young people support
Young Minds is a charity committed to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people.
Where can parents or carers go for advice?
Victim Support is a service offering support to those who have been affected by crime. The crime does not need to have been reported to the police.
Family Lives is a service providing advice, guidance and support on any aspect of parenting and family life.
The Victims' Code under 18s leaflet produced by the Crown Prosecution Service provides details of the support young victims of crime under the age 18 should receive from organisations like the police and courts.
The Surrey Family Information Service Directory has details of further counselling services or help lines that may be able to support a young person.