Advice for parents
Children are likely to need a great deal of care and support if they are a victim or witness of crime – no matter what type of crime this is.
Young people can react significantly differently to adults in all situations and need to feel supported and protected to aid the recovery process. Parents need to be understanding and patient as the negative effects on children can be long-lasting.
For example, it should come as no surprise if children are worried to go out after violent incidents, or get scared when they see someone who looks like the offender of a crime.
How we can help
Voice has specially trained practitioners who are skilled at working with children to help them cope, recover and thrive following all types of crime.
Voice has been set-up specifically to help victims and witnesses of crime and is a free, confidential service.
If you believe a child in your care would benefit from help and support, you can contact Voice here.
If you believe a child is in danger, always call the police on 999 in emergencies, or 101 in non-emergencies.
Keeping children safe online
Various apps, social networking sites and online messenger services are the places to be for young people today but can represent a serious worry for parents and guardians who are concerned for the safety of the children in their care.
The internet obviously has places and elements you wouldn’t want you your children to see or be exposed to, however it is important to strike a balance between young people’s natural tendency to explore and socialise online, with making sure they are safe while they are using the internet.
Safety online can be seen as akin to that offline. For example, you wouldn’t leave personal property lying around to be picked up in physical situations, just like you wouldn’t leave your credit card details to be accessible online. Likewise, you would always hold the hand of a young child crossing the road and keep an eye on them while they play outside – the same is true online.
Children need to be shown how to do things safely and should be supervised at various different levels as they grow older.
Social networking sites don’t present any threats that don’t already exist elsewhere online.
The danger with these sites is that the threats exist in a new online environment that you or your child may not be familiar with.
Remind your child to never tell someone they don’t know personally their name, address or which school they go to.
Encourage children under your care to:
- talk to you about their life online;
- never post or share their personal information online;
- not put anything online that they wouldn’t want their classmates or parents to see, even in emails;
- always be as polite online as they are in person; and
- not send messages when they’re angry or upset.
Monitoring and supervision
Unfortunately, there are other risks associated with internet sites. These can range from seeing offensive images and messages to cyber bullying and encountering people looking to exploit children.
To help protect your children, you can:
- make it a condition that you have access details to their social networking sites;
- view their browsing history on a regular basis to understand that they have been accessing;
- establish places in your home where you will allow them to use their phones, tablets and computers. This will help you to familiarise yourself with the sites your child is interested in and who they are taking to; and
- turn off home wifi in the evenings, to ensure they are not spending all night on social networking sites.
How children can react following serious crime
Studies have shown that children who have witnessed violent crime in particular can have long-lasting emotional or behavioural problems.
Children who witnessed violence have been found to show more anxiety, self-esteem, depression, anger, and temperament problems than children who haven’t, while those who witnesses domestic violence have been found to exhibit more aggressive, anti-social and fearful behaviours.
Young people who see their mothers being abused have shown less skill in understanding how others feel, and boys who have experienced serious physical violence and been exposed to the use of weapons between adults living in their homes have been shown to struggle with peer relationships and self-control. Children who witness violence may also learn to use it.
It is vitally important that children who are exposed to crime in these ways get the help they need to live happy, fulfilling lives. If a child in your care needs some help and support to cope and recover following crime, speak to Voice to hear how we can help.
If you’re worried about a child not in your care, always call the police on 999 in emergencies, or 101 in non-emergencies.