Sexual Exploitation

The definition used by the government in the DCSF Guidance 2009; Safeguarding children and young people from sexual exploitation: supplementary guidance to working together to safeguard children, defines child sexual exploitation as follows:

"Sexual exploitation of children and young people under 18 involves exploitative situations, contexts and relationships where young people (or a third person or persons) receive 'something' (e.g. food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, affection, gifts, money) as a result of them performing, and/or another or others performing on them, sexual activities. Child sexual exploitation can occur through the use of technology without the child's immediate recognition; for example being persuaded to post sexual images on the Internet/mobile phones without immediate payment or gain. In all cases, those exploiting the child/young person have power over them by virtue of their age, gender, intel ect, physical strength and/or economic or other resources. Violence, coercion and intimidation are common, involvement in exploitative relationships being characterised in the main by the child or young person's limited availability of choice resulting from their social/economic and/or emotional vulnerability."

Child sexual exploitation tends to be a hidden activity and much more likely to take place in private residences than visibly, on the streets. Barnardo's has identified three different models of activity; they are not exhaustive, but show a spectrum of exploitation, as follows:

  1. Inappropriate relationships Usually involving one perpetrator who has inappropriate power or control over a young person (physical, emotional or financial). One indicator may be a significant age gap. The young person may believe they are in a loving relationship.
  2. "Boyfriend" model of exploitation and peer exploitation The perpetrator befriends and grooms a young person into a 'relationship' and then coerces or forces them to have sex with friends or associates. Barnardos have reported a rise in peer exploitation where young people are forced or coerced into sexual activity by peers and associates. Sometimes this can be associated with gang activity but not always.
  3. Organised/networked sexual exploitation or trafficking Young people (often connected) are passed through networks, possibly over geographical distances, between towns and cities where they may be forced / coerced into sexual activity with multiple men. Often this occurs at 'sex parties', and young people who are involved may be used as agents to recruit others into the network. Some of this activity is described as serious organised crime and can involve the organised 'buying and selling' of young people by perpetrators.

If you are concerned a child or young person is at risk of or experiencing sexual abuse through exploitation, please contact the Rapid Intervention And Assessment Team on 01582 547653.

Free e-course for parents, carers and others interested in learning more about child sexual exploitation

Pace (Parents against child sexual exploitation) & Virtual College's Safeguarding Children e-Academy have teamed up to create a free, interactive e-course that equips parents, carers and others interested in learning more about child sexual exploitation with the knowledge and information to help safeguard children from this abuse.

This resource has been developed in response to a recent YouGov survey where teachers, police and social workers identified that reaching and engaging parents is key to tackling CSE.

Learners will be able to recognise the signs of CSE, understand the impact of this abuse and know what to do if they suspect a child might be at risk.