Protect and Respect Protecting young people from sexual exploitation

Protect and Respect supports children and young people who have been, or are at risk of being, sexually exploited. We especially want to help the most vulnerable children which we know includes minority ethnic children.

Not enough is known about the sexual exploitation of children, it’s a complicated issue which is constantly changing. We see changes in the way children are sexually exploited linked to changes in society, and how technology is becoming increasingly important in young people's lives. For example, texting, email and the internet provides an easy and often hidden way for abusers to build and develop relationships with young people.

We aim to help children and young people so they are less vulnerable to sexual exploitation, however it happens, by supporting them to:

  • understand what child sexual exploitation and grooming are compared to a safe, loving relationship
  • secure and maintain a safer environment and a more stable lifestyle. This means talking about knowing where to go to stay safe or who to talk to when worried
  • understand that sexual exploitation is abuse and it’s not their fault.

Protecting, reducing risk and helping young people recover

Protect and Respect is for young people aged 11 to 19 who’ve been sexually exploited. It’s offered on 3 levels depending on the needs of the young person.

  • Protection – educating young people about keeping safe.
  • Risk reduction – when we’re really worried about a young person being at risk.
  • Recovery – for young people who have been hurt but are now in a safe place and need to make sense of what’s happened.

a blonde teenage girl with braces in a hooded top smiling at something off camera

How it works

When a young person takes part in Protect and Respect, a specially trained NSPCC social worker meets them and spends up to 6 weeks getting to know them and carrying out an assessment.

The assessment looks at:

  • how risky a young person’s life is at the moment
  • their wellbeing
  • the impact of what they might have already experienced.

We'll use this assessment to help decide how best to work with the young person. Protect and Respect is adapted to meet a young person's individual needs, so we can help them stay safe.

How Protect and Respect works with young people 

We offer a combination of:

  • 1-2-1 sessions
  • group work
  • multi-agency safeguarding work with other people who support children and young people, such as teachers, police officers, nurses and youth workers
  • advocacy support, helping young people to get the support and opportunities they need - for example, from school, health services and the courts.

If the young person agrees, we'll also work with a safe parent or carer to help them understand what child sexual exploitation is, its impact on their child and how they want to move forward.

A young person will usually take part in Protect and Respect for 6 months in total. It may be longer if we feel a young person needs more help, as long as we know Protect and Respect is having a positive impact.

If we feel that Protect and Respect isn’t suitable for a young person, we will always help them to find services that can support them.

Where Protect and Respect is available


02920 108080


01228 521 829


020 8253 1850

East London

020 3763 2380


0115 960 5481


01733 207620


01752 422577


0114 228 9200

Child sexual exploitation

Child sexual exploitation is a type of sexual abuse in which children are sexually exploited for money, power or status.
Read more about child sexual exploitation

Sexual abuse

A child is sexually abused when they are forced or persuaded to take part in sexual activities. This doesn't have to be physical contact, and it can happen online.
Read more about sexual abuse

Domestic abuse

Witnessing domestic abuse is child abuse, and teenagers can suffer domestic abuse in their relationships. 
Read more about domestic abuse

Child abuse and neglect

Find out what child abuse is, how to spot the signs, who is affected and what you should do if you're worried about a child
More on abuse and neglect

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