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Barnardo’s child sexual exploitation services see big rise in numbers

Release Date: 12 Oct 2017

Barnardo’s has today reported a steep 38 per cent rise in the number of people its essential child sexual exploitation (CSE) services are supporting across the UK.

In the 12 months to March 2017 the charity’s CSE services worked directly with 3,430 children, young people, parents and carers, many of whom have experienced, or are at risk of, sexual abuse and grooming. This is up from 2,486 in 2015-16.

Barnardo’s says the sharp increase is down to local authorities recognising that they need to confront the problem of CSE head on and commission wider-reaching services to combat child sexual abuse.

The growth in services reflects the scale of Barnardo’s work across the whole of the UK. The charity’s impact report published today reveals that its frontline workers have helped a record number of vulnerable children and young people.

For example, more than 8 out of 10 of the young carers the charity supports say they now had increased resilience, with just over half reporting improved family relationships and mental health and wellbeing, as a result of attending a Barnardo’s young carers’ service.

The increase in people using the charity’s CSE services follows several recent high profile child sexual exploitation cases including Operation Sanctuary in Newcastle, where the charity provided crucial support to the dozens of children who had been affected by the investigation.

A Government study into tackling CSE earlier this year indicated a 24 per cent increase in child sex abuse offences, with police recording 41,000 offences from March 2015-16 compared to 33,000 the previous year. It also estimated that 5 per cent of 11 to 17 year olds had been physically sexually abused, equating to 50 children in each state secondary school in England and Wales.

Barnardo’s 2017 Impact Report also reveals that its 1,000 essential services supported a record number of more than 272,000 children, young people, parents and carers in 2016-17 – nearly 10 per cent (9.68%) more than 2016-15.

In order to meet the challenges that the Impact Report highlights, the charity is working with councils across the country to help redesign children’s services and the way they’re delivered.

Barnardo’s Chief Executive, Javed Khan said:

The report on Barnardo’s impact published today shows a relentless and growing demand for our specialist services, and as a result we are now helping more vulnerable children and young people than ever before.

Having trained frontline professionals to identify children and young people vulnerable to sexual abuse in their communities, we have seen a huge increase of referrals to our child sexual exploitation services.

Every child needs and deserves a strong family, safe childhood and a positive future to thrive. We plan to make a critical contribution to this through our campaigning and prevention work, while tackling difficult issues like grooming and child sexual exploitation.

Barnardo’s is providing long term solutions which transform thousands of young lives, instead of relying on short term sticking plasters. By 2025 we plan to be supporting 300,000 children, young people, parents and carers a year, which is 25 per cent more than 2015.

We know there is much more work to do and we are only able to improve the lives of so many children thanks to the generosity of the public and dedication of our wonderful workers and volunteers.

Mr Khan added:

Our work with young victims of sexual abuse and exploitation is constantly growing. Along with our efforts to empower children by making them safe from this awful abuse, we are raising awareness across the wider community and schools, equipping them to act where they identify sexual exploitation.

We know first-hand from our work with children involved in cases such as Operation Sanctuary how much they need our specialist support to help rebuild their lives so they can positively move forward to the future.

The charity works with disadvantaged children and young people, focusing on three key areas: those who need expert support having been groomed and sexually abused; those who are struggling to cope with their mental health and wellbeing, and those needing help to live independently after leaving care.

But it also provides a wide range of early family support services, helping over 182,400 people in the last financial year.

In 2016-17 Barnardo’s provided support to:

  • 3,200 care leavers to help them live independently
  • 21,100 children, young people, parents and carers with mental health and emotional wellbeing support
  • 7,200 looked after children
  • 3,444 people in our services for missing young people compared to 2,257 in 2015-16
  • 3,251 young carers (aged 5 to 17)

Additionally, the charity’s family placement services found caring and loving foster carers for 893 children and adoptive parents for 147 children.

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