Child Trafficking

Thank you to the Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Board for allowing us to us this article.

What is Child Trafficking?

Child Trafficking is form of child abuse and refers to children and young people under the age of 18.

Children and young people can be trafficked into, within and out of the UK for many reasons and all forms of exploitation:-

  • Sexual abuse/exploitation;
  • Domestic servitude ie cooking, cleaning, housekeepers, child care;
  • Benefit fraud;
  • Forced marriage;
  • Begging and involvement of criminal activity eg pick pocketing, theft and working on cannabis farms, selling pirated DVD’s etc,

Trafficking is carried out by individual adults, agents and organised crime groups.

How does it happen?

Adults target young people in order to draw them into abusive relationships and this can be done in a variety of ways:-

  • An older adult is nice to you;
  • They start to show you a lot of affection and interest at the beginning of knowing you and make you feel special;
  • They offer you gifts such as clothes, mobile phone etc;
  • They offer to buy you drugs, alcohol etc;
  • They sometimes ask groups of young people to come back to their house or parties where other adults are (their aim is to draw young people into swapping or selling sex. They are not really your friends);
  • Once they have gained your trust, they may start to change towards you and change how they act around you;
  • They will ask you for sex or sexual touching either for themselves or people they know (in return for the gifts they have given you, or the drugs/alcohol etc);
  • They stop being the nice person they were initially and become controlling, threatening and violent.

Could this be YOU or a friend of yours?

  • Do you have an older boyfriend/girlfriend;
  • Do you miss school/college;
  • Do you stay out overnight;
  • Have you been missing from home or from Local Authority care;
  • Do adults outside of your family give you money, gifts, clothes, mobile phone etc;
  • Do you take drugs/alcohol;
  • Are you secretive about where you go or who you are meeting;
  • Are you losing touch with your family and friends;
  • Do you chat to people online that you have never met;
  • Do you hate yourself sometimes.

Exploitation can be hard to recognise, it’s important you spot the signs that it’s happening to you. It is also important for friends to speak up if they spot the signs or are worried about a friend – often the friend will notice the signs before the person themselves as often that person believes they are in a good relationship, when in fact they are not.

What can you do as a friend, if he/she tells you something that worries you?

  • Remember (as their friend), to listen and not judge them;
  • Let your friend tell you in their own words what is going on and how they are feeling;
  • If you feel your friend is in danger, let them know you will ask someone for help this can be your own parent or carer, a teacher or professional within school, a social worker if you have one, a youth worker – anyone you can talk to and if need be, you can talk to the Police;
  • Never promise to keep a secret for them;
  • And remember, to get support yourself too – it is natural if you feel worried or anxious about a friend so you too, need to talk to an adult;
  • Friends are often the people who notice the concerns first so if you are worried about them before they say anything to you (if you are noticing worrying signs) – don’t be afraid to let them know. You can access information on how to support your friends on

REMEMBER – whatever the problem is, talking about it can be the first step to solving it.

Think about all your different relationships

As we grow up, we all develop a variety of relationships – this can be with your family, close friends, friends at school or college, friends in the neighbourhood where you live, a boyfriend or girlfriend. It can be with people you have known for a long time, or new friends you have met or new friends you have just got to know (or even someone you have talked to online).

We all have to learn to enjoy healthy relationships, and that’s a great skill to have. However at times, things can go wrong along the way, and people might try to take advantage of you, forcing you into dangerous situations before you know it.  That’s why you need to be aware of warning signs that someone may want to exploit you and to be very careful who you trust.

What can you do?

If you are worried that an adult is trying to abuse you (or if you are worried about a friend) – tell someone you can trust eg a parent, carer, close member of your family, someone in school or college etc.

It’s not always easy to talk about this, but it is important that you do.

Three to tips to keep safe

  1. Trust yourself to know when something is wrong. If someone makes you feel unsafe, pressured, trapped or frightened, follow your instincts and get help straight away. Don’t be worried about asking for help;
  2. Don’t trust people you don’t know, even if they seem friendly – and make sure you know who you are talking to online. Never give away personal details or agree to meet someone who you have only talked to online;
  3. Don’t be tricked into doing things that are unsafe, even if they seem like fun. What might look exciting at first could be more harmful than you realise.

Barnardos have produced a short dvd to help you spot the signs (click on the link below):-

The link below takes you to a leaflet produced by Barnardos on how to keep safe:-

Where can you go for help?

If you are in immediate danger and need protection call the Police on 999.

If you are not in immediate danger and you would like some advice from the Police, call them on 101.

You can call ChildLine on 0800 1111

You can call the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000


Watch this short clip of Shona McGarty from BBC soap Eastenders, explaining how to spot the signs of child sexual exploitation:

NSPCC produced this clip “The story of Jay” to help young people understand ‘grooming’ in relationships and how to keep yourself safe. It tells the story of how sometimes, relationships aren’t what they seem:

Watch this short story to help identify the meaning of grooming: