Every year, thousands of children and young people in Wales become victims of crime or witness crimes against their family and friends.
Fear of crime is now a very real part of growing up for many young people, and this fear is having a damaging effect on their well-being.
The Good Childhood Report 2017 found that 1 in 3 girls are afraid of being followed by strangers and 1 in 4 boys are scared of being assaulted. Over two million children in England and Wales live in fear of crime in their local neighbourhood.
Many young people live in households where they regularly witness criminal behaviour, e.g. drug dealing, domestic violence and/or sexual abuse. Regrettably, living in an abusive household puts them at higher risk of becoming victims of crime themselves.
Engaging in risky behaviour, or getting involved in drug-taking or underage drinking only increases a young person’s risk of becoming a victim of crime.
Crimes affecting young people
Children and young people can fall victim to many types of crime, including;
All schools in Wales must follow anti-discrimination law. This means staff must act to prevent discrimination, harassment and victimisation within the school.
When a child confides in you
Often the first time you will be aware your child is a victim of crime is when they confide in you or another adult. Depending on the age of the child, they might not even realise the activity they are telling you about is criminal, e.g. being touched in a sexual way.
However shocked you are, it’s important to take them seriously, and listen to what they have to say. If, after listening to their story and asking questions, you believe a crime has taken place, then you must report it. Ring the police on 101.
If a child tells you they have been abused in some way, you can contact your council’s Local Safeguarding Team. In an emergency, call 999.
Going to court
If the police or the Crown Prosecution Service decides there is enough evidence to prosecute, the case will go to court.
Citizens Advice explains what it’s like for a young person under 18 to be a witness.
Support for young victims/witnesses
You & Co supports children and young people who have witnessed or experienced a crime to cope with the impact and effects of the crime, and to build their resilience so they avoid being a victim again.
Young people are supported to:
- feel safer and less fearful
- be less likely to be victimised in the future
- be less likely to engage in risk-taking behaviour
- move on from the experience
Victim Support also supports parents and the professionals who work with young victims/witnesses of crime.