Children’s charity Barnardo’s this week launched a report calling on the government to invest more in supporting sexually exploited young people.
The report – ‘Reducing the risk’ – is a long-term study of Barnardo’s work with children who have been exploited for sex or groomed for abuse through prostitution. It has found that the charity’s work in this area – which began in 1995 – has helped provide positive outcomes for users, particularly for under-18’s.
However, the charity still believes more needs to be done to ensure demand for services is met.
Speaking at the launch of the report Martin Narey, chief executive of Barnardo’s said: “This is difficult but worthwhile work. We now know that we can help children and young people escape from sexual exploitation by adults. But we know there are many children, in many towns and cities, who are not helped.
“The government has prioritised protective and preventive work with children in the Prostitution Strategy for England and Wales. We want to see the investment to make it a reality. Barnado’s will continue to spend a substantial part of out own money in this area but we cannot do it alone.”
Barnardo’s currently spends £1.6 million a year on sexually exploited children, but call provision of specialist services “patchy”. The report calls for:
• A securely-funded UK-wide network of community-based services for children who have been sexually exploited
• Government to make child protection a policing priority
• Department for Education and Skills to ensure preventive and protective work is undertaken with the most vulnerable young people