Sunday, September 15, 2002
Advert campaign will fight child prostitution increase
Controversial images of childhood prostitution were being unveiled today as part of A charity's campaign to lobby government for tougher legislation.
Barnardo's was launching a harrowing advertising campaign, backed up by research, to show the worrying increase in child trafficking, prostitution and abuse.
Under the theme of "Stolen Childhood", the adverts show young children with grotesquely aged and worn faces in situations implying they are about to be abused.
They will initially appear in newspapers, but will next month appear on television and street posters.
In one advert, a young boy, his face aged and wrinkled, stands by a public toilet in front of a man undressing. In another, a young girl, with dark circles round her eyes, sits depressed on a sofa while a partially dressed man runs his fingers through her hair.
The report also called Stolen Childhood reveals that the children most vulnerable to prostitution are runaways, homeless and those in care, or those with poor family attachments.
Other contributing factors are domestic violence, low self-esteem, drug and alcohol abuse and misuse of the Internet.
One of the most "worrying trends" however is the growth of crack cocaine houses.
Lisa Stacey, a spokeswoman for Barnardo's said: "Crack houses are houses that dealers set up and which they encourage young people to go to almost a party atmosphere and get them drugged up for days on end without them knowing what's happening.
"They are very difficult for the police to break into because they are like private parties and sexual exploitation can really flourish in this environment."
Tink Palmer, the charity's principal policy officer, said: "Children as young as nine are known to have been abused through prostitution.
"Over the past three years Barnardo's projects have worked with 2,215 children who have been abused or at risk of such exploitation.
"These children have been entrapped, coerced, beaten and abused. Their childhoods have been stolen yet the law does little or nothing to protect them.
"It is time this changed."
As a result, the charity is urging the Government to create four new criminal offences in the sexual offences legislation to be proposed later this year.
It believes it should be an offence to:
Barnardo's also cites the results of a recent NOP poll which revealed that 80% of the public believe children in the UK run the risk of being roped into prostitution.
Ms Palmer added: "Since the public now clearly recognises abuse through prostitution is a problem for the UK's children, Barnardo's believes it is high time for the Government to introduce tough new legislation to protect children.
"We hope that our work, together with the harrowing newspaper advertisements will force them to treat the issue with the seriousness it deserves."
The report was based on research gathered from 12 Barnardo's projects around the country.
The regional results showed:
Created: September 16, 2002
Last modified: September 16, 2002
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