SECOS Project

Barnardo’s Sexual Exploitation Children’s Outreach Service

Barnardo’s SECOS (Sexual Exploitation Children’s Outreach Service) Project works to enable young people to exit and recover from sexual exploitation.

  • The average age for females who are sexually exploited and being abused in Middlesbrough is between 12 and 13 years old
  • Barnardo’s have worked with males and females as young as 10 and 11 who are known to have been sexually exploited
  • Children and young people who are exploited can be subject to physical abuse and imprisonment by the perpetrators

Elizabeth Phillips, Children’s Service Manager in the North East says:

I believe that sexual exploitation is becoming more organised; the criminals who abuse are more sophisticated. There are networks of older men grooming and trafficking children within the UK. It’s a growing phenomenon and it’s extremely difficult to police. Another area of concern for the practitioners is the number of children who go missing repeatedly and are found to have been sexually exploited.

  • The young people’s descriptions of how they entered into sexually exploitative relationships was common in that they revealed a process of being groomed, introduced and coerced by an abusing adult or peer who was also often viewed by the young person as their boyfriend or partner.
  • Barnardo’s runs specialist sexual exploitation projects that offer a safe, confidential environment where young people can go for help, advice and support. Our project workers actively seek out young people, offering them the long-term support they need to help reduce risks and exit abusive relationships. The projects also work with schools and others to educate vulnerable young people to protect them from exploitation, including the police to bring about the prosecution of perpetrators of sexual exploitation.
  • Our sexual exploitation services in the North East recognise the holistic needs of the young people coming to the project and from our research it was evident that the major issues facing these children are abuse; becoming missing from home; drug and alcohol misuse; sexual health, emotional and general wellbeing including unresolved grief and loss.
  • Barnardo’s SECOS (Sexual Exploitation Outreach Service) Project works to enable young people to exit and recover from sexual exploitation. The project works with young people in the Tees Valley, and their bases are located in Darlington, Durham, Redcar & Cleveland, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough and Stockton. Telephone 01642 819743 for further information
  • The Barnardo’s SECOS Project receives additional financial support from all the above Local Authorities including Cleveland Police Crime Commission, Northern Rock Foundation and Tees Valley Public Health.

Definition of Sexual Exploitation:

Sexual exploitation of children and young people under 18 involves exploitative situations, contexts and relationships where young people (or a third person or persons) receive ‘something’(e.g. food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, affection, gifts, money) as a result of them performing, and/or another or others performing on them, sexual activities. Child sexual exploitation can occur through the use of technology without the child’s immediate recognition; for example being persuaded to post sexual images on the Internet/mobile phones without immediate payment or gain. In all cases, those exploiting the child/young person have power over them by virtue of their age, gender, intellect, physical strength and/or economic or other resources. Violence, coercion and intimidation are common, involvement in exploitative relationships being characterised in the main by the child or young person’s limited availability of choice resulting from their social/economic and/or emotional vulnerability.

Safeguarding Children and Young People from Sexual Exploitation, working together to safeguard children (2009) DfE

  • We believe in the potential in every child and young person, no matter who they are, what they have done or what they have been through. We will support them, stand up for them and bring out the best in each and every child.
  • Barnardo’s report "Whose Child Now?" revisits the issue of child sexual exploitation 11 years on from our first report in 1998, ‘Whose Daughter Next?’ It describes some of the key issues for children affected by sexual exploitation and looks at some of the links between this form of abuse, children who go missing and child trafficking within the UK.