Training ‘can prevent child exploitation’

Professionals must be better trained to spot the signs of children being exploited, it has been claimed.

According to Barnardo’s, doctors, youth workers, teachers and the police must be more aware of how vulnerable young people can be exploited and how they can minimise the risks they are exposed to.

The charity states that better coordination between health, education and specialist services, as well as social services, would “join the dots” and ensure children are protected.

Professionals should also receive specialist training about the signs of exploitation.

Tell-tale indicators include unexplained gifts, the use of drugs and alcohol and disengagement from education, Barnardo’s states.

Wendy Shepherd, Children’s Service Manager at Barnardo’s Sexual Exploitation of Children On the Streets project, said that although a single sign might not indicate exploitation, a series should set off alarm bells among adults.

“If we can identify these children we can significantly reduce the number of children being exposed to these horrific risks,” Ms Shepherd said.

Barnardo’s operates 21 services across the UK for children who have been sexually exploited or are at risk.