Barnardos study reveals scale of the sexual exploitation of boys

27.08.14 | News

Leading children’s charity, Barnardos, has today published their findings of the sexual exploitation of boys and young men. ‘Hidden in Plain Sight – A scoping study into the sexual exploitation of boys and young men in the UK’ was funded by the Nuffield Foundation, supported by Barnardo’s and carried out by NatCen and UCL (University College London). It underlines the dangers of underestimating the impact of child sexual exploitation on boys and young men.
The key findings of the study reveal:

  • 1 in 3 of the service users were male victims of child sexual exploitation
  • Male service users were 2.6 times more likely to have a recorded disability then their female counterparts
  • 48% of male service users were currently or have been involved in the criminal justice service with a record
  • Boys less likely to be identified as victims of exploitation
  • When boys are identified, they present with particularly high risks and vulnerabilities compared with girls
  • Professionals’ attitudes towards boys and young men can be less protective than towards girls
  • 80% of male service users, in the study, were referred to Barnardos services due to going missing

Survivors Manchester CEO and male survivor himself said

This is a fantastic report that begins to shine a light on the sexual exploitation of boys and young men. We fully support the recommendations laid out by Barnardos and ask the authorities to take seriously what is being said. Working mainly with the older groups of young people, and adults, we continue to see the legacy and impact of doing nothing, of colluding with silence and not seeing boys and men as victims – this has to stop. I often wonder that if someone has thought and noticed the changes in me when I was young, then maybe I would have myself been able to speak out. Dr Ella Cockbain’s comments that this research “marks a much needed step away from female centric policy and practice” is a breath of fresh air. We have got to stop seeing sexual exploitation as being a gendered crime only affecting females and wake up and see how many boys and young men are affected by this

Survivors Manchester’s own research into the selling of sex and sexual exploitation on the streets of Manchester, as part of the Safer Streets Project, jointly produced with The Men’s Room and Mancunian Way revealed an engagement of 60 young men in the space of 6 months.
Barnardos Chief Executive, Javed Khan, expressed his thoughts in saying

We have to be brutally honest with ourselves. At the moment society is miserably and unacceptably failing sexually exploited boys and young men. The tell-tale signs are being missed because of a lack of awareness and stereotypes about the nature of this form of abuse.

To read extracts of the report, please click here

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