Children’s charity Barnardo’s has found some doctors are missing signs of sexual exploitation given off by at-risk children.
Specialist training is being urged to help health workers, teachers and police spot when a child is being groomed.
Possible signs include inappropriate sexual behaviour, having unprotected sex from a young age and drug or alcohol abuse, as well as truancy, unexplained gifts and secretive mobile phone usage.
Barnardo’s urged better information-sharing between social services, teachers, police and health workers to ensure the dots are joined to protect children at risk.
Wendy Shepherd, from the charity, said: “If we can identify these children we can significantly reduce the number of children being exposed to these horrific risks.
“Taken alone, the indicators are not necessarily proof of exploitation, but alarm bells should ring, especially if there are a number of indicators.”
Martin Narey, Barnardo’s Chief Executive, added: “The sexual exploitation of children by adults is a hidden obscenity. There is an understandable tendency to believe this happens very rarely.
“In fact it’s everywhere, in every town and city in the UK and professionals involved with children need to know the tell-tale signs. The earlier abuse is identified, the earlier we can stop it.”
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