Content warning: themes around child exploitation and trauma.
Throughout the summer of 2023, we have been warning that children are at greater risk of exploitation during the holidays.
Being out of school can mean that some children spend more time without adult supervision, for example spending time online or out with friends. This can lead to children being groomed into sexual and criminal exploitation. We were concerned that the cost-of-living crisis could place more children at risk this summer, as organised crime groups could look to use mounting financial pressures and time out of school to exploit children.
20,136 people joined us in calling on the Government to ensure that no child is left without specialist support after being exploited by signing our petition. 30 organisations, MPs and members of the House of Lords signed our open letter outlining our call for change.
On 13th September we handed our open letter to the Ministry of Justice and we’ve requested a meeting with the Justice Minister responsible for the Victims and Prisoners Bill to discuss this matter further. Read Jessica Edwards, Barnardo’s Senior Policy Advisor for childhood harms, discuss why the Victims and Prisoners Bill is important for children.
What we will do next
While the summer has ended, we know that child exploitation has not. Our work to help children at risk of, and experiencing exploitation, continues all year round. For example, our frontline staff deliver therapeutic support for children and their families to help them recover from trauma and prevent further harm. We also train professionals like social workers and teachers to spot the signs of exploitation and take action to help children get the help they need.
We’re also continuing to push for change with decision-makers across the UK. This includes:
- influencing The Victims and Prisoners Bill so that it can affect positive change for exploited and abused children in England and Wales
- calling for a National Working Group and an updated National Action Plan to tackle child exploitation in Scotland
- calling for a distinct Child Sexual Abuse strategy in Northern Ireland
Three things we discovered in our latest research on child exploitation
Find out what Barnardo’s latest research has uncovered about how the school holidays and cost-of-living crisis may affect the number of children who are at risk of criminal and sexual exploitation.
Jess Edwards, Senior Policy Adviser – Childhood Harms at Barnardo's who wrote our report, Invisible children, has written a blog about what the research uncovered.
How we're helping children who have experienced sexual exploitation and criminal exploitation
Young person supported by Barnardo's after experiencing child criminal exploitation
Thank you for believing in children
Excluding retail costs, for every pound we spend approximately 94p goes on working with the children and young people who need it most. For more information see our annual report.