Signs of child sexual exploitation 'being missed'

Teenage girl with mobile phone (file pic) Secretive use of mobile phones is among the tell-tale signs

Related Stories

Teachers, social workers and the police are missing the warning signs of children being targeted for sexual exploitation, a charity has said.

Barnardo's said children who were being groomed often appeared with unexplained gifts or started engaging in risky behaviour.

They also tended to start skipping school or becoming disruptive, it said.

People working with children needed to be made aware of the "tell-tale signs", it added.

These also include secretive use of mobile phones and the internet.

Some children might use drugs or be encouraged to do so by those attempting to control them, it added.

'Horrific risks'

Barnardo's, which is currently working with more than 600 exploited children, is calling for professionals to be specially trained in spotting the tell-tale signs and knowing how to respond to them.

It also wants there to be better co-ordination and information-sharing between the organisations involved in protecting children.

These include social, health and education services, and the police.

Wendy Shepherd, children's services manager at a Barnardo's project, said: "If we can identify these children we can significantly reduce the number of children being exposed to these horrific risks.

"Taken alone, the indicators are not necessarily proof of exploitation, but alarm bells should ring, especially if there are a number of indicators."

Barnardo's chief executive Martin Narey said the sexual exploitation of children was a hidden obscenity.

"There is an understandable tendency to believe this happens very rarely.

"In fact it's everywhere, in every town and city in the UK, and professionals involved with children need to know the tell-tale signs."

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Education & Family stories



  • Mukesh SinghNo remorse

    Delhi bus rapist says victim shouldn't have fought back

  • Aimen DeanI spied

    The founder member of al-Qaeda who worked for MI6

  • Before and after shotsPerfect body

    Just how reliable are 'before and after' photos?

  • Lotus 97T driven by Elio de AngelisBeen and Gone

    A champion F1 designer and other notable losses

  • A poster of Boris Nemtsov at a rally in St Petersburg, Russia, 1 MarchWho killed Nemtsov?

    Theories abound over murder that shocked Moscow

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.