Our new study with the charity ECPAT UK reveals that looked after children (children in local authority care) who are victims of criminal or sexual exploitation are going missing at an alarmingly high rate.
The rate of exploited looked after children going missing is much higher than that of non-exploited looked after children. This is highlighted in 2020-21, when 10% of non-exploited children in care were reported missing. Contrastingly, 50% of children in care who had experienced exploitation were reported missing.
This study reveals that exploited looked after children are one of the groups at the highest risk of going missing. In addition, we know that there are strong links between exploitation, both criminal and sexual, and going missing. This is because going missing is both a key indicator of exploitation and a common consequence of exploitation:
Children deserve to feel safe in their environment and have access to the support they need. Therefore, these shocking new figures highlight just how needed our Is This OK?, and SafeCall services for young people experiencing exploitation are.
Our services are free, confidential, and non-judgemental. Find out more about the Is This OK? service for young people, and SafeCall for parents and carers.