Below is a briefing, which highlights key messages for schools from Operation Sanctuary, and other information schools might find helpful.
If you feel your school needs advice in relation to child sexual exploitation, please contact Lorraine Topping, social worker for missing children, on 01670 622900.
Child sexual exploitation - further information & resources
Child sexual exploitation is a major child protection issue across the UK. Hidden from view and going unnoticed, vulnerable young girls and boys are groomed and then abused, leaving them traumatised and scarred for life.
If you think a child is in immediate danger, please dial 999
. If you are a child or young person who needs help, please call Childline
on 0800 11 11.
Alternatively, please call 0808 800 5000
to discuss your concerns with the NSPCC 24-hour child protection helpline.
What is child sexual exploitation?
Child sexual exploitation is when children and young people receive something (such as food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, affection, gifts, or money) as a result of performing, and/or others performing on them, sexual activities. Child sexual exploitation can occur through the use of the internet or on mobile phones.
In all cases, those exploiting the child or young person have power over them because of their age, gender, intellect, physical strength and/or resources. For victims, the pain of their ordeal and fear they will not be believed means they are too often scared to come forward.
How many are affected in the UK?
- Child sexual exploitation is a hidden issue, so we can only go on estimates from national levels of service provision, including our own. Last year, Barnardo's services worked with 1,940 children and young people who had been sexually exploited.
- The true number of children who are victims of sexual exploitation is likely to be much higher. For victims, the pain of their ordeal and fear they will not be believed means they are too often scared to come forward.
Risks faced by children?
- Children at risk of sexual exploitation are some of the most vulnerable in our society. Many have experienced abandonment or have suffered from physical and mental abuse. They need help but don’t know where to look.
- Younger victims are being targeted. In one month alone, Barnardo’s services worked with 126 children aged 10 to 13 who had been subjected to sexual exploitation.
- Perpetrators of these crimes are becoming increasingly sophisticated, using the internet to protect their identity and trafficking children around the country to avoid detection.
The services Barnardo’s provide
Read stories of how we help
- Barnardo’s is the largest provider of child sexual exploitation support services in the UK. Last year we worked with 1,940 victims through 29 specialist services.
- Our services work hard to identify and reach out to young people at risk in the community. By showing concern and building trust, our staff help children to break free of abusive and exploitative relationships.
- Staffed by qualified professionals, these services provide a safe and confidential environment where young people can go for help, advice and support. Children are offered a range of therapeutic interventions including one-to-one counselling, group-work sessions and drop-in support.
- Services raise awareness of child sexual exploitation in their local area, working with schools and others to deliver preventative education programmes and providing specialist training to professionals so they know what signs to look out for.
to transform the lives of sexually exploited children.
Barnardo’s has teamed up with MP for Rotherham Sarah Champion
to conduct a parliamentary inquiry into child sexual exploitation and trafficking within the UK. The inquiry
aims to shine a light on these terrible crimes and what the authorities are doing to protect and support victims.
The inquiry was launched on 20th November 2013 to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act and will test how effectively the legislation is working. Help us tackle child sexual exploitation – join our campaign
Spot the signs
Advice for parents, professionals and young people on signs of sexual exploitation and how to keep safe
Barnardo’s has published the set of advice leaflets, available to download below for parents, professionals and young people across the UK.
Sexual exploitation affects thousands of children and young people every year. We can all play an important role in reducing that number, helping to cut children free from this abuse. Get to know the tell tale signs, and a number of practical steps you can take to protect children in your life.
Download the leaflets:
Children and young people
Wud U? App - Barnardo's
is an educational tool for teachers and care professionals who interact with young people that might be at risk of sexual exploitation.
Download the app here
The app aims to educate young people about behaviour that could put them at risk of being sexual exploited, through illustrated, interactive stories.
Wud U? will enable you to present sensitive issues to your group of young people. You will be able to discuss the decisions they would make if they were in the same situation as the characters within the stories. This app also offers advice about their decisions
Through the Wud U? app you can:
- demonstrate how young people can make safe decisions
- provide your group with more information about sexual exploitation, from a trusted source
- help us raise awareness of sexual exploitation by sharing the Wud U? app
Barnardo’s would like to thank Microsoft and young people we work with for their support in developing this app.