No child should be left to cope alone after being exploited

Content warning: themes around child exploitation and trauma. 

We’re concerned that children could be more at risk of exploitation than ever this summer. The holidays can trap some children in harmful situations with no-one to turn to. With the cost-of-living crisis pushing families into poverty, we fear that even more children will be vulnerable to this type of abuse. 

Worryingly, when exploitation happens, not all children receive specialist help and many are left alone to cope. This summer, that could mean even more children go unsupported.  

No child should be left to cope alone after being exploited. Join us to help children recover and rebuild their lives after experiencing devastating trauma. 

Join us to help children recover and rebuild their lives after being exploited.

We are calling on the Government to make sure that no child is left without specialist support after being criminally and sexually exploited.

How we're helping children who have experienced sexual exploitation and criminal exploitation

A teenage boy who experienced CCE looks into the camera, with headphones resting on his neck.
[Barnardo's] give you the resources, help and everything you need to go off and make something of yourself


Young person supported by Barnardo's after experiencing child criminal exploitation

Last year, we provided specialist support to over 6,000 children through our child abuse and exploitation services, but we know there are many more children who desperately need support. The Government must invest in nationwide specialist support for all children who are victims to help recover from their trauma.

Why specialist support services are so important for children who've been exploited

  • The experience of being exploited causes trauma for children and it is unlikely they will be able to recover from abusive experiences without significant professional support.
  • Sexual and criminal exploitation can have a devastating impact on children’s lives.
  • Specialist services help to support and safeguard children who have been exploited and abused. They can offer one-on-one interventions and therapeutic support.
  • With specialist support, children can recover from the trauma, and lead healthy and happy lives.

Why we're talking about this now

  • We're concerned the cost-of-living crisis could place more children at risk this summer, as organised crime groups look to use mounting financial pressures and time out of school to exploit children.
  • Time is of the essence. The Government is discussing how to better support children who are the victim of exploitation in Parliament this summer.
  • We can make a real difference in helping children recover from the life-changing impact of exploitation and prevent further harm by making sure the Government understands the urgent need for, and delivers, specialist support services across the UK.
  • More than 16,000 children face sexual exploitation in England every year (Department for Education, 2022). And it's estimated that at least 27,000 children are at risk of being criminally exploited by organised crime gangs (Children's Commissioner, 2019). Because exploitation is often hidden, there are likely thousands more children suffering. 

During the school holidays, some children spend less time being supervised by an adult, such as online or out with friends, where they are at risk of being groomed and exploited by adults. This can lead to children being coerced into taking part in criminal activity, and becoming the victim of criminal offences such as rape and sexual assault.

Worryingly, when exploitation happens, not all children receive support due to a postcode lottery of services across the country which means that many children are left unsupported.

Sexual and criminal exploitation can have a life-changing impact on a child, leaving them traumatised and feeling alone if they don’t get the support they need to recover. 

    • Preston, a child who experienced criminal exploitation (CCE) smiles in a recording studio next to a Barnardo's support worker

      How Barnardo's helped Preston after being criminally exploited

      After being exploited by criminals, Preston is looking forward to a bright future with support from Barnardo's. 

    • a girl who experienced sexual exploitation sits next to a Barnardo's support worker

      Support after sexual exploitation: How Barnardo’s helped Lisa

      After 10-year-old Lisa was coerced into sharing indecent images of herself with strangers online, one of our services supported her and her family.  

    Learn more about child sexual exploitation (CSE) and child criminal exploitation (CCE)

    • Criminal exploitation of children

      We help children who have been criminally exploited or are at risk of being exploited. Learn more about the criminal exploitation of children, or child criminal exploitation (CCE) as it’s known, from our experts who work in this area.

    • Child sexual abuse and exploitation

      We support thousands of children and young people who have experienced sexual abuse. We also provide support to their families, and to people working with children, such as social workers and teachers, through consultation and training. Learn more about child sexual abuse (CSA) and child sexual exploitation (CSE).

    • Keeping children safe online

      Children and young people are online more than ever before and they deserve to feel safe when they are. Find out more about online safety from our experts. 

    Thank you for believing in children

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    Of every pound we spend (excluding retail costs) 92p goes on our work. 3p on governance and pension costs and 5p on raising the next £1. For full details of our spend, see our latest annual report.

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    Names and details have been changed and models used to protect the privacy of children we help.