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Rediscovering childhoods after exploitation

When young people are exploited, they often miss the best bits of growing up. They might lose friends, fall behind at school, miss out on all the things other children take for granted. They are forced to grow up too fast. Sarah, a project worker, tells us how many young people who are exploited have to rediscover their childhood. 

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Child exploitation

Missing out

Childhoods should be an exciting time when they are figuring out their identity. For children who are exploited, it's different. 

‘It is all the normal things we don’t even think about. They don’t get to have a healthy childhood. Their innocence is taken away. They're missing out on everyday activities.’

'I have seen young people that have got parents with issues, such as drug use or learning needs. They are forced to look after them and become vulnerable to exploitation.’

‘I spoke to a young person last night. She's 13 and what she's been exposed to is horrific.'

boy looks out of the window pensively

growing up too fast

She's so old, but so young, that is what really concerns me.

Young man with a hat on stands smiling in the park with trees behind him

Hope is always there Hope is always there

As a teenager Matthew was groomed. He became lost in a world of drugs and crime. But he broke free and got the help he needed. Now he has his whole life ahead of him.

Forced to cut class

When a child is being groomed, they are far more likely to stop going to school. In fact, groomers encourage them to skip school rather than home. That way they are more likely to avoid police and social care noticing. 

‘Some of the young people I see actually love school. But the majority have missed so much education, they don’t see the point going back.’ 

‘On top of being exploited, the majority have had some sort of negative school experience. Whether it's bullying, whether it's teachers not dealing with them appropriately.’ 

criminal exploitation facts and figures

84%

of parents are concerned about children being groomed online for criminal exploitation

4 in 5

parents are worried about county lines in their local area

46%

of parents think the risk of children being criminally exploited has increased since the start of the pandemic

Finding a new way forward 

teenage girl looks forward

Finding a new way forward 

Sarah wants to make it clear that just because a child has been exploited, it is far from the end of the road. She works with them to rediscover their childhood and take back control of their lives. 

‘The impact exploitation has on a child is extremely detrimental. But we try to put young people’s lives back together.’

Missing school

‘We want these young people to be the next social workers or the next police officers. We want them to take over from us at some point.  

We’ve got good workers who get these young people ready for adulthood.

Breaking the cycle

This Christmas, thousands of young people want to break free. Break free from abuse, neglect, and being forced into crime. Break free from fear, isolation and depression. Break free from the life they hate.  

Our project workers will do whatever it takes to make that happen. They’ll listen, understand and act. They’ll give every young person the confidence and hope to find their way out of danger, and into a future that’s theirs to own.