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Seriously Awkward: Protect older teenagers

The most vulnerable 16 and 17 year olds are at risk of exploitation
You can help: Stand up for vulnerable young people's rights

Stand up for young people's rights

A crucial opportunity has arisen to strengthen the law to protect 16 and 17 year olds from sexual exploitation. The Policing and Crime Bill, introduced by Government in February, could see changes that mean older teenagers are better protected. As the laws stands, police cannot step in and protect older teenagers in the same way they can protect children under 16. 

The Joint Committee on Human Rights is a group of cross party MPs and Lords who scrutinise all Government Bills, looking specifically at those with significant human rights implications such as the Policing and Crime Bill. Now, we need your help to collate our submission to the Joint Committee on Human Rights who will be examining the Bill.

Please take a moment and tell us why vulnerable older teenagers rights should be recognised.

Watch our video to see what we’re calling on the Government to change. 

Old enough to know better?

Our latest report examines what happens when an older teenager reveals they are being exploited.

The report shows that vulnerable 16 and 17 year olds are falling through the cracks and too often do not receive the protection they need.

Donate so we can help more than 1,000 children stay safe

We want to double our support to help more than 1,000 young people stay safe and rebuild their lives through our specialist services across the country. But we need your help so we can help them.


Our work to tackle child sexual exploitation

We have been fighting against child sexual exploitation for twenty years, and supporting children and young people affected by it.

We want to double our long-term support and help more than 1,000 children and young people stay safe and rebuild their lives through our specialist services across the country.

This is Seriously Awkward

Being 16 and 17 can be an awkward age, but inconsistent laws can make it Seriously Awkward for vulnerable teens. Thousands of 16 and 17 year olds are often left without the same basic protections as younger children.

That’s why we’re campaigning to improve protections in the law, increase access to services and make sure that no 16 and 17 year old at risk of harm is left with nowhere to turn to.

Young people's stories

The Seriously Awkward campaign is based on the challenges we see teenagers facing in our services across the country.

The stories of young people like Chloe, Eva and Jemma, demonstrate that despite 16 and 17 year olds being more at risk of exploitation, they do not get the protection and support they need to stay safe.

Firebird - the first West End play about child sexual exploitation, shown half a mile from Parliament

The Children’s Society is proud to have worked in association with Hampstead Theatre Productions and Tim Johanson to bring Firebird - a thrilling play tacking child sexual exploitation - to a West End audience at Trafalgar Studios.

We hope that everyone who saw Firebird will take action as part of our urgent Seriously Awkward campaign to help us get teenagers the protection, help and justice they deserve.

What people are saying about the campaign

Since the campaign launched last summer, we have been growing support among many important groups and influential people.

Read what's being said by some of the people who have spoken up on why they are backing the campaign.

Teens in Crisis? Annual Edward Rudolf Debate 2015

On Thursday 19 November, we held a national debate tackling the question: are we failing our nation’s teenagers?
With this event, we wanted to start a fresh debate and tackle some of the most difficult issues affecting teenagers right now.