Breaking the wall of silence Practitioners’ responses to trafficked children and young people

Trafficking is often hidden behind a wall of silence with children and young people on one side, afraid or unable to talk, and practitioners on the other, finding it hard to identify the child or young person, respond to their needs or prosecute their abusers.

This research provides an insight into how practitioners have worked with and sometimes overcome these problems while maintaining the child’s best interests.

The report presents findings from: 

  • a review of international and UK literature on trafficking
  • focus groups and interviews with 72 experienced practitioners working with trafficked children and young people
  • analysis of 37 cases of children and young people, 27 who had been trafficked into the UK from abroad for various forms of exploitation and 10 UK citizens who were trafficked within the UK for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

This research was conducted by researchers at the University of Bedfordshire and the NSPCC and principally funded through The Children’s Charity.

Authors: Jenny J. Pearce, Patricia Hynes and Silvie Bovarnick
Published: 2009

Findings reveal the complexities involved in identifying and responding to the needs of children and young people who have been trafficked into and within the UK.

The report argues:

  • trafficking is a process, not an event
  • trafficking can be hidden behind a wall of silence
  • mainstream services have a role in protecting children
  • specialist services are needed for trafficked children and young people.
Tables and charts 4
Executive summary 5
Introduction 5
Chapter 1 Setting the scene: what we know about the trafficking of children and young people 15
Chapter 2 Research aims, methods and context 39
Chapter 3 Trafficking is a process, not an event: questions of perception and identification 55
Chapter 4 Breaking through the wall of silence: what practitioners can do to reveal the hidden problem of trafficking 81
Chapter 5 The role of mainstream services for trafficked children and young people 111
Chapter 6 Specialist services for trafficked children and young people 150
Recommendations drawn from the findings of the research 180
Appendices 187

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