Child sexual exploitation is a form of abuse, which is helpful to think of a course of conduct rather than an isolated incident as it involves a ‘relationship’. However the relationship is based on a deliberate imbalance of power.
The relationship can take several forms and can follow a pattern:
The child/young person will be significantly affected by this and may not recognise what is happening to them as abuse, or may feel that it is their fault.
Points of contact can be home, school, shopping centres, entertainment arcades, leisure clubs, taxi ranks, bus and train stations and online.
Free Online Training for Parents (PACE) – Equip yourself with the knowledge to protect your children against sexual exploitation.
Child Sexual Exploitation Poster [PDF 1 Mb]
The different forms of child sexual exploitation can be:
The abuser has power which is either physical, emotional or financial, or control over a young person. The young person may believe they are in a genuine friendship or relationship with the abuser. The abuse can exist in isolation in that the individual perpetrates the abuse or can involve the young person being introduced and abused by other people. The ‘boyfriend’ grooms the victim by striking up a seemingly loving relationship with them, giving them gifts and going out. Victims may be required to attend parties and have sex with multiple men, threatened with violence either to themselves or their loved ones if they don’t. They may also be made to introduce their friends as new victims.
Technology is widely used by perpetrators as a method of grooming and coercing victims, often through social networking sites and mobile devices (Jago et al, 2011). The abuser grooms the child/young person on line. They may pose as another young person of a similar age or an adult. The abuser may talk to the child via a web cam striking up a relationship, progressing to getting the child/young person to pose or send images of themselves which may progress to naked or semi naked images. These images will be stored and shared with other child abusers. The abuser may then start to pressurise the child/young person and blackmail them by threatening to tell parents or share images. This form of abuse usually occurs in private, or in semi-public places such as parks, cinemas, cafes and hotels. It is increasingly occurring at ‘parties’ organised by perpetrators for the purposes of giving victims drugs and alcohol before sexually abusing them (Barnardo’s, 2012)
Young people can associate with gangs and as a result of their involvement can become involved in offending behaviour and/or sexual exploitation. Sexual violence against females in a gang environment can occur in the following:
Other forms of criminality can occur where victims are trafficked through criminal networks, and forced or coerced into sex with multiple men including groups of men. This is serious organised activity.
The Barnardos Wud U app is an educational tool for teachers and care professionals who interact with young people that might be at risk of sexual exploitation.
The app aims to educate young people about behaviour that could put them at risk of being sexual exploited, through illustrated, interactive stories.
To download the app visit the Barnardos website
It is important that young people understand consent so that they recognise when abuse may have occurred and get help.
It is not easy to tell someone about something which is upsetting, worrying, frightening or where there may be feelings of shame and guilt. However there are people who will listen and help and not judge.
If a young person is worried about a situation that they or a friend are in, they should talk to an adult they can trust as soon as they can. This can be a parent, teacher, support worker,youth worker or a street sport worker. They can also talk to a social worker who will be able to help on 01724 296500.
Young people can call the following helplines:
You can talk to a social worker on 01724 296500.
You can talk to the police urgently on 999 or on Humberside Police 101.
Barnardos – help and advice
Stop It Now – helpline
Police – advice, help, report
Child sexual exploitation is very distressing and can be a very difficult form of abuse to recognise.
The following websites offer advice and guidance for parents if they are worried or if their child is suffering this type of abuse:
Pace – parents against child sexual exploitation
Barnardos – what can I do as a parent?
Police – advice, help, report
Childline – information about sexual abuse and how to get help
If you are worried about your child you can talk to the Police or Children’s Services on 01724 296500.
In an emergency call 999
It is important to stress that most children in the UK do not encounter child sexual exploitation. If however your child is affected, then it is also important to remember:
There are a number of common myths about child sexual exploitation that need to be dispelled:
We need to support children and young people to know what healthy relationships are. We need to help them understand consent and what is a healthy or unhealthy relationship. We need to encourage children and young people to talk to a trusted adult if they are worried about a situation.
If you have any concerns that a child you know may be a victim of Child Sexual Exploitation report it to your local police on 101.
In an emergency or if a crime is ongoing always dial 999.
Hampshire Constabulary has launched a campaign to help people identify the signs of child sexual exploitation. This includes a blog written by 15-year-old ‘Alice’, her friends, family and teachers about how CSE happened to her.
Source: Hampshire Constabulary 25 May 2016
Further information: Alice’s diary
Recent research by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner identified that young people did not understand consent to sexual activity:
The Sexual Offences Act 2003 states that consent in relation to sexual activity is:
Consent involves three elements:
The Triangular Pyramid Net highlights the three elements