Trafficked children need specialist foster care placements to reduce the risk of them going missing or being retrafficked, says Barnardo’s on Anti-Slavery Day.
Child victims of trafficking need specialist foster carers who have the skills and knowledge to help them overcome their trauma and keep them safe from traffickers, says the UK’s leading children’s charity.
Today (Wednesday, October 18) is Anti-Slavery Day which aims to raise awareness of human trafficking and modern slavery, and encourage government, local authorities, companies, charities and individuals to do what they can to address the problem.
The UK’s largest children’s charity, which runs the national Counter Trafficking Service, also says it’s vital that professionals working with children can spot the signs of trafficking to keep children safe.
Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan said:
“Trafficked children are threatened, manipulated and controlled by their traffickers who feed them a web of lies leading them to fear authorities.
“It is well known that there is a greater risk of trafficked children going missing from care but too often processes are not put in place to protect children.
“The first few weeks after a child has been identified as a potential trafficking victim are often the most crucial time to prevent them being re-trafficked and we need better support for these children.
“They need specialist foster care placements where carers understand the risks and can work closely with other agencies to keep children safe.”
Trafficked children are some of the most vulnerable in this country. Many children Barnardo’s has supported have been sexually abused, forced to work in nail bars or car washes, or forced to commit crimes, such as cultivating cannabis.
Many trafficked children go missing from care. They often go back to their traffickers out of fear for their families or themselves or because they’re the only person they know. Sometimes children will not realise they are being exploited or have been trafficked and want to return to their traffickers.
Traffickers use emotional and physical abuse to control children. They might lure children in with false promises and once in their power, they threaten them or their families with violence or death. They don’t care about the age of children; Barnardo’s specialist services have supported children and young people aged 0-21.
Barnardo’s National Counter Trafficking Service provides specialist support workers who are the go to people for trafficked children. They help children understand what is happening with social care services, the police and immigration in ways they understand and give them tools to stay safe.
Barnardo’s also says that professionals working with children have different levels of understanding about trafficking, with some not knowing what the signs are and therefore aren’t always able to keep them safe – it’s important they get specialist training to understand the issue.