Barnado’s launches app to help protect children from sexual exploitation

‘Wud U’ app calls on young people to think of situations when a teenager might be at risk of sexual exploitation

Mobile phone
Picture: Rex Features

By Claire Edwards

Children’s charity Barnardo’s, in partnership with Microsoft, have created a new app to educate young people on the dangers of child sexual exploitation.

The free app, called ‘Wud U’, has been developed for social workers, teachers and other professionals working with young people to encourage conversation and raise awareness. It has been designed as an ‘ideal starting point’ for teaching children how to keep safe.

‘Wud U’ calls on young people to think of situations when a teenager might be at risk of sexual exploitation. After viewing a number of scenarios, the app asks the user what they would do in the same situation and offers advice about the decisions they make.

Michelle Lee-Izu, director at Barnado’s, said the app will help children “identify what a healthy relationship looks like”, providing them with the knowledge and skills to spot a dangerous situation and keep themselves safe.

“Our aspiration is that ‘Wud U?’ will become an indispensable tool in educating the young about the risk of child sexual exploitation,” Lee-Izu said.

The charity worked closely with Microsoft to develop an interactive tool that is both accessible and engaging to young people.

Jane Coppock, manager for Barnardo’s specialist child sexual exploitation service in London, said: “We are always looking for new ways to engage with young people, both in a classroom as well as more vulnerable children through our services.”

The app is the latest part of an on-going campaign by Barnado’s to raise awareness of child exploitation. It follows the charity’s report last month, which made recommendations to close the legal loopholes that make children vulnerable to grooming.

The app is available from the Microsoft App store, the Apple store and Google Play.

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