An independent investigation is needed into England's children's homes which are failing to manage and protect youngsters who run away or go missing, MPs and peers have said.
The report by parliamentarians also called for urgent action to prevent children being sent to live in areas up to hundreds of miles from their family, which is believed to be a major factor in causing some of them to run away.
Labour MP Ann Coffey, chairwoman of the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) for runaway and missing children and adults, said the issue of children who go missing from care was a "scandal".
The report also claims that care workers' belief that older children "consent" to their abuse is damaging their welfare. John Brown Head of Strategy and Development at the NSPCC told the Huffington Post UK it was "very concerning and ill-informed that some people who are sexually abused are viewed as 'asking for it.'
"We are aware that this view is held by some professionals in the system, though its not the prevailing view" he added.
"It is hard working in the care system, we recognise that, and it is easy for professionals to become burnt out and cynical.
"Professionals need training to help them understand the dynamics of abuse and why it is not a lifestyle choice."
As well as the investigation and urgent action on "out of borough placements", the joint report by two APPGs calls for a scorecard system to rate local authorities, an end to barriers which prevent police knowing the location of children's homes and a new system for reporting runaways from care.
The report recommends that more weighting should be given to the management of missing incidents in Ofsted's inspections.
The inquiry also highlights a lack of training for professionals.
One practitioner told the inquiry: "You can have someone looking after a young person who, the day before, their experience may have been working at a deli counter in Asda."
Enver Solomon, policy director at the Children's Society, the organisation which helped produce the report, told the Huffington Post UK they found that children in care "don’t want more rules, they want better quality relationships.
"Increasingly with older children they are viewed as troublesome, rather than troubled. We need to drive through a culture change with training, awareness and mechanisms to enable children to get their voices across. There is no specialist support for older children.
"The system has lost focus. It's like moving pawns around the chessboard. The system is not providing a sufficient number of high quality placements."
His views were echoed by Natasha Finlayson, Chief Executive of the Who Cares? Trust. She told the Huffington Post UK:
“It’s vital that professionals working with young people are given the right sort of training to help them identify where exploitation and coercion is in play – even if a young person doesn’t realise themselves that it is taking place – and to enable them to respond proportionately to ensure that young people are protected.
“Building trusting relationships, where social workers properly listen to young people, is crucial to the process of making what are often very difficult, finely tuned judgements about whether – and how – to intervene.”
The joint report by Ms Coffey's group and the APPG for looked after children and care leavers follows the jailing of a sex abuse ring in Rochdale which preyed on vulnerable girls.
Only one of the girls was in care at the time of the abuse but all were said to have been known to social services at some point in their childhood.
Ms Coffey said: "There is a scandal going on in England involving children missing from care and until recent cases of child sexual exploitation in Rochdale and other places put the spotlight on this issue, it was pretty much going unnoticed.
"This inquiry has revealed the widespread concern that what we have in place at the moment falls dramatically short of what is needed to protect some of society's most vulnerable children.
"We know that dangerous predators are exploiting large gaps in the system and targeting children.
"Our inquiry has demonstrated how the system is far from fit for purpose and needs an urgent rethink to address these failings."
The Earl of Listowel, vice chairman of the APPG for looked after children and care leavers, said: "The inquiry recognises that there are examples of excellent children's homes and that for some children this is sometimes the most appropriate option.
"But the great variability of standards and the generally very low level of qualifications of staff need urgent remedy.
"As the recent Rochdale case has clearly demonstrated, it is essential that no stone is left unturned when it comes to the care and protection of some of this country's most vulnerable children."
There are 65,520 children in local authority care in England and an estimated 100,000 children run away either from care or their own homes each year.
An Ofsted spokesman said: "Ofsted welcomes this thoughtful and comprehensive report. There is no doubt that the system is currently failing some very vulnerable children.
"In its inspections of children's homes, Ofsted regards the issue of missing children as one of the main indicators of the quality of care.
"The inquiry rightly highlights the barriers which prevent us sharing information about the location of children's homes with local police forces.
"The regulations in force specifically prohibit us from sharing that information with anybody except local councils. We agree that this is something that the Government needs to consider changing."
Children's Minister Tim Loughton said: "This report goes right to the heart of some serious weaknesses in the current system, which leave far too many of the most vulnerable children in society exposed to harm and danger.
"It is completely unacceptable that existing rules are simply being ignored and that, frankly, some local authorities and children's homes are letting down children by failing to act as a proper 'parent'. We are looking in detail at all the issues raised and will set out urgent next steps in the coming weeks."
Barnardo's chief executive, Anne Marie Carrie, said: "We are concerned that the care system risks failing some of our most vulnerable children by inadequately protecting them from being preyed upon by abusers.
"Barnardo's is piloting a ground breaking new scheme with specially trained and highly supported foster carers to offer alternative safe accommodation to victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking.
"Other, more extreme alternatives such as locking children up in secure accommodation for their own protection should only ever be used as a last resort, as this risks further harm by effectively punishing the victim."