Welcome to another week.

Javed Khan, Chief Executive of Children’s charity Barnardo’s has told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that children who escape from care do so because traffickers “feed them a web of lies, leading them to fear the authorities.”

The claim comes after statistics revealed that 16% of children referred to Barnardo’s own fostering network had been sexually exploited or abused, and 17% were trafficked. These figures are likely to be a conservative estimate, as it is often difficult to assess the full extent of children being exploited.

The Reuters article published in Turkey’s Daily Sabah, goes on to reference Department of Education statistics which show that over 50,000 children in England are in foster care, with thousands disappearing more than once.

2017 was also the worst year for the UK in relation to child trafficking, with the UK being the most prominent country of origin for children being trafficked. It was a record breaking effort, with the UK seeing the highest number of child trafficking cases from any country in the world this year.

And yet very little effort has been made to find out why children in care in the UK really go missing in the first place.

A 2013 report from Research in Practice is one of a handful of investigations which has tried to look at root causes of children running away from care homes and foster homes. The researchers suggest that Placements may be an issue. Their report tells us:

“Placement moves and instability in care can leave CYP [Children and Young People] lacking a sense of identity or agency, which they may try to re-establish through running away. Changing school at the same time as changing placement may increase feelings of instability… Supporting carers to stabilise placements, making well matched placements in the first instance and forward planning to avoid emergency placements can all support placement stability.”

The report goes on to detail several forms of placement which are routinely used, and which place children at much higher risk of running away from care and into the arms of traffickers.

Our question to you this week then, is just this: who is to blame for children going missing whilst in care?

A big thank you to Dana for alerting us to this story.

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