The children's charity Barnardo's is calling for specialist training for professionals working with children to help them to identify the tell-tale signs of those being groomed for child sexual exploitation.
The charity claims that children who are victims of abuse and exploitation aren't being recognized by professionals. Barnardo's has called for GPs, teachers, youth workers and the police to be better educated on identifying children thought to be at risk of sexual exploitation.
They have outlined various indicators of sexual exploitation in children, from unexplained gifts to drug and alcohol consumption.
According to Barnardo's the harm inflicted on the young victims by sexual abuse can be minimized by early discovery. Some young people can be more at risk of sexual exploitation such as young people who are homeless or children in care whose placements have broken down, the charity said.
Since opening its first project for girls and women who have suffered sexual exploitation in 1994, 21 other projects have also been set up to cater to the growing need. To draw more attention to the issue, Barnardo's are running a television advert over the summer highlighting the problem.