Petition the prime minister here

Hidden in plain view within their communities, thousands of vulnerable children across the UK are being cynically targeted, groomed and subjected to appalling sexual abuse. These children have irrevocably lost their childhood.

As an Oxford MP, I saw for myself the appalling devastation caused by child sexual exploitation when it emerged that a violent gang had been grooming and sexually abusing children in Oxford for at least eight years. The victims spoke of being plied with hard drugs, beaten and repeatedly raped by strangers.

Unbelievably though this case is not unique. This year there were 18,915 sexual crimes against children. At least 16,500 children are at risk of sexual exploitation. We have to get better at protecting the victims and prosecuting the perpetrators.

That it why, with the support of the NSPCC, Barnardos, The Children’s Society, PACE, ECPAT, Save the Children, Oxcat and others, I am launching the CHILDHOOD LOST campaign calling for better protection, support and justice for the victims.

The CHILDHOOD LOST Campaign calls for six steps to stop child sexual exploitation:

STEP 1: Introduce new Child Sexual Abuse Prevention orders so police can prevent child sexual abuse
STEP 2: Make sure local areas set up the specialist child sexual exploitation centres needed to identify & protect victims
STEP 3: Give judges clear guidance on sentencing complex child sexual exploitation cases
STEP 4: Reform courts so that very vulnerable witnesses in child sexual abuse cases are no longer traumatised by giving evidence
STEP 5: Give the Education Secretary the power to order the publication of Serious Case Reviews
STEP 6: End the postcode lottery of support for victims of child sexual exploitation

Please sign the petition and add your voice to those of us calling for action to drive child sexual exploitation from our communities.’

Nicola Blackwood
MP for Oxford West & Abingdon