Hope and Justice
Action Against Human Trafficking
Sally Bradley is Project Manager of Hope and Justice at Bethel Community Church. Her aims are to increase awareness of the problems of Human Trafficking in South Wales, inform parents of the dangers of grooming and related issues, and to rescue children and young people from vulnerable situations, in partnerships with local agencies.
Sally is available for public speaking engagements and can be contacted at:
The sad reality in England and Wales is that each year thousands of children are raped and abused from as young as 11 years by people seeking to humiliate, violate and control them and the impact on their lives is often devastating. Many of these young people have been raped in the most unbearable ways. These have included children who have been abducted, trafficked, beaten and threatened after being drawn into a web of sexual violence by promises of love and others who have suffered in silence for years. The failure of agencies to recognise this means that too many child victims are not getting the protection and support they so desperately need.
The evidence points to several factors that can increase a child’s vulnerability to being sexually exploited. These include: living in a chaotic or dysfunctional household; history of abuse (including familial child sexual abuse, risk of forced marriage, risk of ‘honour’-based violence, physical and emotional abuse and neglect); attending school with young people who are sexually exploited; experiencing a recent bereavement or loss; and in cases of CSE in a street gang, children who were gang-associated either through relatives, peers or intimate relationships, or living in a gang neighbourhood, were also vulnerable.
Evidence hearings and interviews with children and young people, the following issues were identified:
- Emerging personality disorder.
- Borderline personality disorder .
- Emerging psychosis.
- Thoughts of suicide.
- Drug and alcohol abuse.
- Severe low self-esteem.
The following signs and behaviour are generally seen in children who are already being sexually exploited:
- Missing from home or care.
- Physical injuries.
- Drug or alcohol misuse.
- Involvement in offending.
- Repeat sexually-transmitted infections, pregnancy and terminations.
- Absent from school.
- Change in physical appearance.
- Evidence of sexual bullying and/or vulnerability through the internet and/or social networking sites.
- Estranged from their family.
- Receipt of gifts from unknown sources.
- Recruiting others into exploitative situations.
- Poor mental health.
- Thoughts of or attempts at suicide.
Help and support
If you are a child or young person affected by abuse or exploitation you can call Childline for advice and support 24 hours a day on Tel: 0800 1111.
If you are an adult who needs support or information, or are concerned about a child or young person, call the NSPCC helpline on Tel: 0808 800 5000.