Child exploitation and trafficking

More and more victims of child exploitation and trafficking are being identified in the UK, with over 2000 children identified in 2017, a 66% increase on the year before.

This is not something that only happens to foreign children; British young people were the most commonly reported nationality. In fact, there was a 265% increase in British young people identified – partly because of growing awareness of ‘county lines’ -drug running as a form of child exploitation, although exploitation can take many forms which you can read more about here.

Young people are at a time in their lives when they are experimenting, learning and growing, while using social media on a regular basis.

Young people can be exploited anywhere. In the UK, there have been several high-profile cases where children were targeted in seemingly safe areas such as takeaways or in public.

Raising awareness of what child trafficking and exploitation look like, and what can be done about it, are crucial in combatting this abusive crime.

That is why we have launched Spotlight, an awareness-raising programme for teachers, teens and parents.


We provide interactive sessions on modern slavery to secondary schools across the UK to raise awareness with young people who may be vulnerable and susceptible to exploitation.

The sessions run by Unseen seek to highlight the risks and provide young people with the information, confidence and resilience to protect themselves and understand the dangers which they could face.

Our sessions include:

  • 40 to 60 minute interactive sessions for 14-16-year-olds which includes:
    • 2 videos depicting scenarios of exploitation commonly seen in the UK involving young people. The sketches show recruitment, subtle signs of exploitation, deterioration of prior social relationships, various methods of control and more.
    • A guided interactive discussion follows the sketches as the students tease out what they have seen and begin to identify exploitation, abuse and risks.
    • The session then includes an engaging presentation on the prevalence and proximity of various types of exploitation, with a focus on why this matters to a teenager in the UK. The presentation connects tactics used to target teenagers to the students’ everyday life.
  • 30 or 45-minute awareness sessions for teachers and school staff, complete with a packet including written lesson plans for future reinforcement and awareness-raising material, such as posters designed for a teenage audience to be hung in schools.
  • Potential sessions for parents
  • Pre- and post-session questionnaires for children and staff to evaluate the sessions
  • Introduction to our Student Ambassador programme

For more information or if you would like Spotlight to come to your school, please contact

If you think you know a young person at risk of exploitation, call the 24/7 Modern Slavery Helpline for free advice on 08000 121 700. Or find out more here.