Grooming gangs - please check on your teens

(230 Posts)
lemmein Tue 17-Jun-14 09:42:48

I am unsure whether to put this on here, I might get ripped apart for what some might consider 'stating the bleedin' obvious' but I'm going to anyway.

This year my 15 year old daughter came home late (due in at 10 - arrived home at 11:30). She'd told me that she was going to the cinema with her friend. When she didn't arrive home I called her friends parents, her friend had been home all evening. Obviously I panicked. When she eventually arrived home we had a huge row and she admitted she had been out with '2 lads'. I grounded her for being late and lying. The next day she ran away.

I contacted the police who informed me that another girl in her school had been involved with an asian grooming gang; the police found my daughter the same night but referred her to social services because they believed she may have been exploited.

Since that day our lives blew up. That night when she supposedly went to the cinema 2 men had picked her up from my doorstep and took her away for sex. I discovered that she had a private number for a taxi driver who she would call at the top of the road to take her to school (I thought she was getting the bus, as always!). She also admitted that on several occasions when she was supposed to be sleeping at her friends she was actually with these men. On one occasion she had been given drink and drugs, fell asleep, and woke up to a man in his late 20s having sex with her. Obviously we were devastated, and the guilt was overwhelming, I'd failed at protecting her by trusting her word.

The police told me to not ground/punish her because it would make these men more appealing to run to; it was an horrific time, I didn't want her to leave the house knowing she would go straight to them, so I put a 'spy' app on her phone. From this I found that she was still meeting these people, on one occasion I found 2 men sat in a car outside her school, the same 2 men who had taken her that night when she was supposed to be at the cinema. I videoed and confronted them; contacted the police, they said they weren't committing a crime!?! It was becoming difficult to protect her from this gang, and from herself really. She couldn't see what they were doing at all.

I don't want to go into every little detail because I don't want to lose the reason for my writing in such a lengthy post. My daughter doesn't fit the 'stereotype' for the victims of this sort of crime. Me and her dad have been together for 19 years and have a good relationship, she's never witnessed any sort of violence/bullying/intimidation. She's currently doing her GCSEs and is predicted As throughout, even when she ran away she took her school books! She's mostly a confident young girl and up until those months I had a good relationship with her, or so I thought. Obviously I'm not saying that those who DO fit the stereotype are fair game to these scum, I just want to make the point that actually, there is no stereotype.

I had become too relaxed, I had believed she was staying at her friends, I stupidly had stopped checking and just trusted her; something I will regret forever, by not checking I feel I had practically giftwrapped my daughter to these men. They could do what they wanted because they knew she had lied and would feel unable to confide in us.

Please, please, please check where your teens are. I know some might find this patronising and think I'm an idiot for not knowing what was going on under my nose (I still can't believe it, so I understand this) but I genuinely had no reason to suspect anything was wrong. Had she not arrived home late that evening I probably still wouldn't know. These people are clever! they worm there way into your teens lives, offer them free lifts, give them free takeaways, invite them to parties with drink/drugs - they are ruthless. They will even wait outside your home, outside schools! It has taken months of intense work with my daughter, from me and also from social services (who have been brilliant btw, if you suspect this is happening to your child please contact them) for her to understand what these men were doing. I'm probably guilty of painting a picture of paedophiles/rapists as being monsters, when actually, as she has found, they are often charming, good looking young men.

Also, check your teens FB friend list, for older males or ones that live outside the area - my daughter's was full of these people. Question if they turn up with new perfume, clothes, even cigarettes - this was one thing I noticed but suspected her and her friends had been shoplifting (now, I wish they had!!). I had lost contact with her friends parents, obviously at 15 year old I no longer stand at the school gates, since speaking to the parents its become apparent that this was happening to all of these girls, not just my daughter. Please, always check where they are. I have been told by the police and social services that these grooming gangs are a huge problem in my area (the north east) - it is unbelievable how they can infiltrate your family and steal your daughter from under your nose. I wish you could all meet my daughter, she's not stupid, yet she believed them?

Sorry for the ridiculously long post; I hope I don't sound patronising, probably most mums do what I stupidly didn't anyways, but if it helps one mum/dad question their teens activities its worth it. These people are scum, please check.

lemmein Tue 17-Jun-14 09:43:45

Argh sorry, I didn't want this to be so long; but wanted to add - my daughter was introduced to these men by a best friends sister who I believe was being paid for 'supplying' young girls. Unbelievably similar to the Rochdale case. I'd really recommend the book 'Girl A' which was written by the victim in Rochdale - it was like someone had written the last 6 months of our lives down; these men seem to work using a very successful formula!

Loubelles Tue 17-Jun-14 09:57:08

My DD is a long way off being a teen but thank you as I think this is something that will stick in my mind forever now.

Really sorry you are going through all this but glad your daughter has a family that love and cherish her. Hopefully your daughter will finally see these men for the B***** they are!

missmash Tue 17-Jun-14 10:02:31

My two DC are very young so it all seems a long way off for me but I just wanted to say your daughter is very lucky to have you and your DH to get her through this hideous chapter in her life.
Hopefully she will soon see what a lucky escape she has had and be able to get back to enjoying her teenage years away from those utter scumbags.

missmash Tue 17-Jun-14 10:02:32

My two DC are very young so it all seems a long way off for me but I just wanted to say your daughter is very lucky to have you and your DH to get her through this hideous chapter in her life.
Hopefully she will soon see what a lucky escape she has had and be able to get back to enjoying her teenage years away from those utter scumbags.

lemmein Tue 17-Jun-14 10:05:57

Thank you Lou. For a long time I thought we'd completely lost her but she is doing amazing now mainly due to the work she's done with social services/barnados, I feel like I finally have my daughter back smile I'm glad it will stick with you; unbelievably I work in this field yet STILL didn't see it. Sigh. Just, unbelievable. Thank you.

lemmein Tue 17-Jun-14 10:09:59

Thanks missmash. This week has been massive for her, for reasons I can't really go in to, but she has recognised one of these men in a police e-fit for an horrific crime. Sort of brought it home to her, we aren't all overprotective dinosaurs, these people are dangerous!

DeepThought Tue 17-Jun-14 10:16:20

I am horrified by what happened to your daughter

Thank you for raising awareness

Best wishes

AndIFeedEmGunpowder Tue 17-Jun-14 10:19:24

Oh lemein, it sounds terrifying. I'm glad things are working out now and I hope the men are successfully prosecuted.

Please don't blame yourself. They sound very, very good at what they do and teenage girls don't understand how vunerable they are and are so adept at hiding things from their parents. I think you are brilliant parents for handling it so well.

Won't have teenagers for a few years but thank you for the warning.

lemmein Tue 17-Jun-14 10:28:19

Thank you for your support. Unfortunately they haven't been prosecuted. Although social services have been brilliant the police have been useless, almost writing it off as a lifestyle choice. One police officer even enquired when my daughter was 16 when I told him about a man having sex with her whilst she slept. He couldn't seem to handle the concept at all that the age of consent doesn't apply in rape!! They were uninterested when I showed them video evidence of these men waiting outside the school. Beyond useless.

sugaryonthesurface Tue 17-Jun-14 10:31:49

I dont have a daughter or a teen but Id like to say to the OP thanks for reaching out to all the other parents of teens and girls this may happen to,i can imagine that it will raise awareness greatly. Your daughter is so fortunate to have parents like you who will be there and support her coming to terms with the horrors that have happened.I cant imagine how angry and hurt you must be feeling,truly disgusting are these people that would do such a thing to anyone,let alone a child.It makes me sick to the stomach,I cant imagine what it feels like being the parent of one of these girls.I wish your daughter every success and strength in her future x

AndIFeedEmGunpowder Tue 17-Jun-14 10:34:40

Wow. Would you consider speaking to an investigative journalist? (Panorama type rather tabloid) Might put more pressure on the police to pursue this. Or speak to your MP?

Understand if you couldn't think of anything worse. I'm so sorry.

AndIFeedEmGunpowder Tue 17-Jun-14 10:35:09

*rather than

midnightagents Tue 17-Jun-14 10:35:29

Thanks for posting, always good to keep awareness raised on this issue! Im so sorry for what happened to your daughter. I hope she will be able to get past this, sometimes as a teen you dont realise the damage or fuss about something until you get older and can see it from a new perspective sad.

The unforutnate thing about these situations is that in the media when they are refferred to as a gang you imagine it would be obvious to teens and parents who these men are and what they are after, but in reality it is often a lot more subtle than that, usually just a group of people who hang out together, including some older men ( and i suppose possibly women) who lurk around too take advantage. I was in this situation, all men were local to the area and same cultural heritage as us, we genuinely thought of these men as friends and a legitimate part of the group. It is only in hindsight we realise what these much older men were doing in hanging around with us as underage girls, providing us with alcohol and drugs and having sex with us.

summertimeandthelivingiseasy Tue 17-Jun-14 10:36:26

This is so sad to read - my heart goes out to you.

Unfortunately, I have also found that the police are 'beyond useless' when you are faced with people who habitually break the law and take the piss (totally unconnected situation) and there is no substitute for looking after your own.

I sincerely hope you find a way through this.

lowcarbforthewin Tue 17-Jun-14 10:37:12

Thank you for sharing your story. I can't believe how useless the police hsve been.

Wishing your daughter every success. It definitely isn't stupid teens this happens to, these men are very very manipulative and clever.

Imsuchamess Tue 17-Jun-14 10:38:43

My dc are a long way off teenage years. But I believe I may have stopped similar happening to my teenage sister when I discovered a 40yo buying her cigarettes and alcohol always picking her up from places and generally being her personal taxi. I only found out as I am her big sister and she confided in me. She is still angry at me for informing police and my mother. Unfortunately he didn't get prosecuted but I strongly believe he was grooming her.

Thank you for the message I will keep a eye out.

WorraLiberty Tue 17-Jun-14 10:43:21

Oh my goodness you're poor DD sad

So sorry you all went through such an awful thing

It's very selfless of you to want to share this, to raise awareness flowers

WorraLiberty Tue 17-Jun-14 10:43:38

*your

Nancy66 Tue 17-Jun-14 10:49:18

hang on a minute....your daughter, a minor, was raped. What did the police say about that? Doing nothing is absolutely not an option for them.

summertimeandthelivingiseasy Tue 17-Jun-14 10:57:33

I know - you would have thought they would be more pro-active after the recent court cases sad

MuddlingMackem Tue 17-Jun-14 10:59:25

My DD is still a few years from being a teenager, but thank you for sharing this.

If you have the energy you should really make a complaint about the police. I can't believe they dismissed a rape. I agree totally with Nancy66 on this.

Nowadays we focus so much on the online dangers to our children and make such a big deal of it being better to know people in real life, that it must be very difficult to get through to them that some seemingly nice real-life people are just as dangerous as the unknown online ones.

lemmein Tue 17-Jun-14 11:10:27

Nancy, one police officer (the first that attended when she ran away) was excellent, she was the one who informed us about how prolific this was in our area and that my daughter was likely to have been a victim. The rest (all young males, if that's relevant) have been useless. One was more interested in the spy app I'd put on her phone, concerned that he may have one on his own because his battery drained quickly(!)

My daughter is unwilling to report these people; I have, but she won't make a report because she doesn't want to go to court. Her social worker has said that is her choice and we shouldn't force the issue - she's embarrassed and doesn't want anyone to know. To be honest my main focus over the last 6 months has been getting my daughter back, rightly or wrongly, now shes ok I am going to make a formal complaint about the police. Especially as, this week she is likely to be spoken to as a witness to another crime - but the victim of this crime is, I believe, a more 'acceptable' victim and I'm interested in seeing how the police suddenly deal with my daughter and how what we've been telling them for months will suddenly become of interest to them.

I understand what you are saying, its frustrating and it makes you feel hopeless - but there is literally nothing I can do unless my daughter makes a formal complaint.

HoneyTits Tue 17-Jun-14 11:14:49

Can I ask where in the North east you are, I'm also in the north east and its quite worrying that things like this goes on. My dd is nearly 7 so quite a long time off being able to take herself to school or go out with friends but it doesn't stop me worrying.

lemmein Tue 17-Jun-14 11:22:21

Thanks everyone for your support. I'm sorry you have had a similar experience midnight; at the moment my daughter seems fine, like she doesn't really understand/appreciate the enormity of the situation. I worry that in the future, like you said, hindsight will hit her like a ton of bricks and it'll affect her.

Imsuch - it sounds like your sister had a lucky escape, teens really don't seem to question why other people are being 'nice' to them sadly. She's lucky you spotted it.

I don't really want to scaremonger but this is happening all over. They get one young, good looking lad (in my daughters case, an 18 year old) - they are sweet to the young girls, buy them stuff, pick them up, etc. Then they take them to unused flats, with a mattress on the floor, pressure them into having sex (I believe, from the things I've read on the spy app, my daughter was a virgin prior to this) - then during sex older men will walk in and ask for oral sex.

With my daughter it was several groups of gangs, which she believes don't know each other, though obviously that is likely to be untrue. I believe they shared her phone number, or told others where she was, so it would seem unrelated to her, but I suspect its one huge group.

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