If you are worried don’t ignore it and do ask your child questions. But be mindful if they are involved in any form of exploitation they will be extremely scared and need a safe space to open up. Stay calm and try to keep control of your emotions no matter how high they may be running inside you. Try not to judge and do listen to what they say. Your child needs you on their side so avoid accusations or confrontation.
This is an enormous pressure on you so don’t feel you have to go it alone. Seek help from professional organisations (see below) and other people you trust. These could be your child’s teacher, a mentor, other family members or a faith leader. There will also be other parents affected by the same issue. It can be cathartic and productive to reach out to them and maybe get together for a self-help group.
It may take a lot of time for your child to open up to you but ultimately you want to be the one who they can honestly confide in. This might mean listening to your worst fears and trying to process them. However, try to let your child know that you want to listen to them and work with them to find a solution.
If you and your child work together and reach out for help, the situation will usually start to improve. Be prepared for setbacks along the way but the good news is that most children and young people will eventually get their lives back on track.