Charities accuse statutory agencies of failing child prostitutes

Sexually exploited children and young people are not receiving
enough support from statutory agencies because they are failing to
identify them, according to a report released today,
writes Sally Gillen.

Interviews with 41 people aged between 16 and 38 for the report
by a group of children’s charities, including
Barnardo’s and The Children’s Society, finds that many
young people had attempted at least once to leave prostitution but
had not been given enough support.

The report, which was funded by the Home Office, also shows that
all those interviewed had suffered physical or sexual abuse at home
and feared their pimp more than the stranger whose car they got

Over three quarters of those interviewed had run away from home
at least once. Last week Barnardo’s criticised a Social
Exclusion Unit report on young runaways for failing to include
recommendations on sexual exploitation.

Coordinator of End Child Prostitution, Pornography and
Trafficking Helen Veitch said: “This report highlights how
invaluable the experiences of these children and young people are
in understanding the problem of child prostitution.

“They feel an overwhelming sense of isolation from
services and have underlined the challenges they face when trying
to escape sexual exploitation.”

The charities are now calling for a range of measures to help
child prostitutes. They include the establishment of joint
strategies between police, social services, education and health
departments to provide a service for children who are at risk of
sexual exploitation.

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