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Child exploitation

Catch22 responds to Commission on Young Lives report

A hooded figure browses content on their phone.

Today’s report highlights the need for early intervention for teenagers and their families in order to address high rates of violence, exploitation, and criminalisation. Catch22 has long advocated for a whole-family approach to supporting vulnerable children and young people and supports the recommendations in the Commission’s report.

A New Partnership with Families: Supporting families to keep teenagers safe from gangs, exploitation and abuse recognises the important role of families in preventing and addressing exploitation risks amongst young people. It calls for Government to commit to giving families access to practical support services, with early intervention the top priority.

The report notes that between 2010 and 2020, local government spending on early intervention fell 48% while money spent on higher-intensity interventions, usually delivered much later and costing more per individual, increased by 34%.

Catch22 Director of Young People and Families, Kate Wareham said:

“There’s no doubt that children and young people have borne the brunt of the pandemic – with missed opportunities, disrupted education and reduced social interaction. For many of those young people, in particular those without a strong support network, the impact has been considerably worse.

“In our own work we’ve seen more children being exploited (and through different means), we’ve seen family breakdowns and we’ve witnessed young people struggling to break out of the cycle of crime and violence.

“Whatever situation a child finds themselves in, we need to be putting in the right support early on to prevent negative spirals. Family Hubs, as the report highlights, are a vital part of this, as are local programmes and interventions that focus on prevention. If we continue to intervene too late, not only will costs soar, but it makes it far more difficult to help that young person get back on track.” 

To begin to tackle the discrimination which exists across many of our public service systems, there must be specific measures in place which address why we still see inequity in child welfare too.

This report reminds us of the need to move towards a community-centric approach to supporting those most at risk of becoming victims of crime and exploitation. It is a starting point for what, we hope, will encourage the Government and commissioners to look at the capacity that exists in local communities, agencies, and families.