Every year thousands of children are the victims of modern day slavery. These children may have been forced to cross international borders, have been groomed into ‘county lines’ drug trafficking or have faced exploitation in their own communities. Child exploitation involves exploitative situations, contexts and relationships where young people receive something (for example food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, gifts, money or in some cases simply affection) as a result of engaging in some form of usually illegal activity which may or may not include sexual activities (Child Sexual Exploitation).
Sexual exploitation can take many forms ranging from the seemingly ‘consensual’ relationship where sex is exchanged for affection or gifts, to serious organised crime by gangs and groups. What marks out exploitation is an imbalance of power in the relationship. The perpetrator always holds some kind of power over the victim which increases as the exploitative relationship develops.
Sexual exploitation involves varying degrees of coercion, intimidation or enticement, including unwanted pressure from peers to have sex, sexual bullying including cyberbullying and grooming. However, it also important to recognise that some young people who are being sexually exploited do not exhibit any external signs of this abuse.
If you are concerned about your or son or daughter, please contact the safeguarding team at school for advice, call 101, or 999 if it is an emergency, and explore advice given – the links below are good places to start:
Childrens society - Tackling criminal exploitation and county lines