The Sexual Exploitation of Children and Young People Briefing

The Sexual Exploitation of Children and Young People Briefing

The Sexual Exploitation of Children and Young People Briefing

What is Sexual Exploitation?

Sexual exploitation can take many forms from the seemingly ‘consensual’ relationship where

sex is exchanged for attention, affection, accommodation or gifts, to serious organised crime

and child trafficking. What marks out exploitation is an imbalance of power within the

relationship. The perpetrator always holds some kind of power over the victim, increasing

the dependence of the victim as the exploitative relationship develops.

Many children and young people are groomed into sexually exploitative relationships but

other forms of entry into exploitation exist. Some young people are engaged in informal economies that incorporate the exchange of sex for rewards such as drugs, alcohol, money or gifts. Others exchange sex for accommodation or money as a result of homelessness and experiences of poverty. Some young people have been bullied and threatened into sexual activities by peers or gangs which is then used against them as a form of extortion and to keep them compliant.

Who is at risk of being Sexual Exploited?

Any child or young person may be at risk of sexual exploitation, regardless of their family

background or other circumstances. This includes boys and young men as well as girls and

young women. However, some groups are particularly vulnerable. These include children

and young people who have a history of running away or of going missing from home,

those with special needs, those in and leaving residential and foster care, migrant children,

unaccompanied asylum seeking children, children who have disengaged from education

and children who are abusing drugs and alcohol, those involved in gambling and those involved in gangs.

What is being done to tackle the Sexual Exploitation of children and young people?

Working Together to Safeguard Children sets out a tiered approach to safeguarding: universal, targeted and responsive. Within that framework, tackling sexual exploitation requires a three-pronged approach: prevention, protection and prosecution. This month  Central Government reported on the progress of its action plan: Tackling Child Sexual Exploitation action plan, November 2011 with a further progress report scheduled for the end of 2012.

The action plan  focuses upon four main strands:

  • ·         Growing independence – managing the risk
  • ·         Getting out of and combating child sexual exploitation
  • ·         Getting justice for victims and their families
  • ·         Getting help to deal with what has happened and looking to the future


It placed responsibilities on agencies and LSCB’S including undertaking a scoping exercise and needs audit to determine the extent of sexual exploitation in their area; ensuring robust commissioning strategies are in place to meet the needs of the children and young people and developing robust policies and procedures covering the sexual exploitation of children and young people.

LSCBs should also ensure that local safeguarding training includes information about how to identify the warning signs of and vulnerabilities to sexual exploitation and that specialist training is available for all key professionals.

In May 2012 Central Government published practical guidance for frontline practitioners which can be found at :

What can we as professionals/volunteers do?

Ensure you are trained in how to identify potential warning signs and vulnerabilities and what to do when you are concerned about the welfare of a child or young person. Be open to the idea that a child or young person who may be using drugs and/or alcohol; may have mental health difficulties; may be running away; may have obtained gifts; may have become secretive or show changes in their normal patterns of behaviour just might be being sexually exploited. We need to think the unthinkable and be concerned enough to take action, protecting children and young people is everyone’s responsibility, if you turn a blind eye because you feel uncomfortable or don’t really know what to do, so might everyone else! Be persistent and be there for that child. 

“Child sexual exploitation is one of the biggest child protection issues of our time, but together we can make a real difference. By spotting the signs early, we can all take practical steps to protect children. We don’t know how many abusers there are out there – but together there are more of us. These abusers have power over their victims – but together we are more powerful. They are persistent – but together our persistence is greater.” (Anne Marie Carrie, Chief Executive, Barnardo’s)

July 2012

Griffin Care Provide a variety of training courses surrounding the Sexual Expoitation and other forms of explotation against children. For details:

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