Children and young people who’ve experienced a crime may struggle to explain their feelings and physical symptoms. They often have feelings of guilt or blame themselves for what’s happened.
If you care for a young person who has experienced a crime, you may notice a change in their behaviour. Every young person is an individual and will react in different ways, although there are some common signs that things aren’t right. The young person may:
- seem angry or depressed
- have trouble sleeping
- eat too much, or too little
- cling to adults
- become withdrawn
- struggle to be left alone
- argue or fight with friends or family members
- have panic attacks
- wet the bed
- act the way they did when they were younger.
How you can help
Lots of crimes involving young people are committed by someone they know. This makes it difficult for the young person to know what to do, or who they can trust. If young people experience crime at home, they’re likely to be scared about what might happen if they tell someone.
Young people may also:
- be worried about upsetting people who love them
- not want to get anyone in trouble
- have been threatened by the person who committed the crime
- not realise they’ve experienced a crime
- think what they’ve experienced or witnessed is normal
- feel ashamed or embarrassed
- be worried that they’ll be in trouble
- think nobody will believe them.
If you’re worried about a young person, try to:
- give them the time and space they need
- listen to them properly
- avoid anger or blame, especially if the crime happened at a time when the young person was breaking the rules
- stay calm and reassure them
- let them make their own decisions
- encourage them to accept help and support.
As a parent or carer, it can be upsetting when a young person feels they can’t talk to you. This is very common. Try to remember that it’s better for them to talk to someone, rather than not talk at all. Let the young person know they can choose a trusted adult to talk to. They may want to think about talking to:
- a teacher
- a doctor
- a counsellor or family support worker
- a friend’s parent or carer
- a faith or community group leader
- a youth worker
- a coach or activity leader.
The London Children and Young People’s Service
We can support any young person living in London who has experienced or witnessed a crime. We can support them whether they choose to report the crime or not. Young people can access support whenever the crime happened, even if it was a long time ago.
The service is designed for young people between the ages of 4 and 17. We will also support people aged 18 – 21, if they feel the service suits them better than the adult service.
What to expect
We understand that young people may find it difficult to talk about what’s happened. We offer them a safe space to share their feelings and talk about how the crime is affecting them.
Our specially trained advisors will:
- work with the young person at a pace that suits them
- let the young person choose where they get support – it could be at home, school or somewhere else they feel safe
- help the young person to make their own decisions
- never judge or tell a young person what to do
- work with the young person to agree a support plan
- support the young person to express themselves and stand up for their rights
- with their permission, introduce them to specialist support services to meet their individual needs.
How to contact us
- Call our free and confidential Supportline on 08 08 16 89 111. It’s available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Young people under 13 should know that we need permission from a parent to speak with them.
- Text us by typing 18001 before the phone number above.
- Live web chat is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
We can only accept professional referrals using this form or alternatively you can call 0808 168 9291 to make a professional referral over the phone.