What is sexual exploitation of children and young people?
Child sexual exploitation is when a young person is forced or enticed into a sexual activity — either in return for money, food or accommodation or because they have been given drugs or alcohol.
Their abuser may be older and can exert influence or power. This can also be a ‘hidden’ problem — many young people do not realise they are being exploited, even though they are not giving informed consent.
Watch: What All Parents Should Know
(short film of about two minutes by Camden Parent Council and motionworx)
You can report your concerns by:
- Calling the Police 101 number and quoting ‘Camden Makesafe’, or call 999 if you think a child or young person is in immediate danger.
- Calling the NSPCC child protection line on 0808 800 5000 (24 hours) or contact the multi-agency safeguarding hub.
The main types of sexual exploitation are:
- By another young person with whom they have a relationship and who then coerces them into sexual activity with their friends. This can happen within gangs, where a victim is groomed into a relationship then abused by other ‘friends’ or gang members. This ‘peer on peer’ abuse is the subject of the short film by Camden Parent Council.
- Inappropriate relationships, where a young person is targeted by one abuser who exploits them by using power and control. The victim may think they are in a relationship and there may be a significant age gap.
- Organised networks and trafficking, such as paedophile rings, the sex ‘industry’ and other criminal networks.
- Online exploitation, where the young person shares sexual images or videos or is coerced into carrying out sexual acts via web-cam.
What are the signs that a child or young person may be a victim?
Signs that parents, carers or professionals should look out for:
- Changes in behaviour — including mood swings, becoming aggressive and disruptive or very quiet and withdrawn.
- A significantly older ‘boyfriend’ or ‘friend’.
- Overly sexualised behaviour or promiscuity.
- Increased or secretive mobile phone and computer use.
- Unexplained gifts, such as new clothes, jewellery, mobile phones or iPods.
- Unexplained absences.
Film and leaflet for parents
- Watch: Becky’s Story (a short film made by the Children’s Society)
- Watch: Not Seen, Not Heard (video)
- Watch: What All Parents Should Know (short film of about two minutes by Camden Parent Council and motionworx)
- Would you know if you child is being sexually exploited? (PDF 1.7MB)
Useful websites and links
- NSPCC advice for parents and carers
- Barnardo’s advice and resources for parents and carers
- Help your child stay safe on social networks: www.nspcc.org.uk/shareaware
- Parents Protect!
- Thinkuknow for parents and carers
- Camden Council’s award-winning short film, ‘kNOw this isn’t love’, aimed at young people: www3.camden.gov.uk/notlove/
- Also for young people: www.urlife.org.uk/relationships/when_things_go_wrong
- Young people, relationships and the law — short documentary film by Camden Summer University students
- Stop it Now!
- MOSAC — supporting non-abusing parents of abused children
- The Hideout — Women’s Aid website, helping children and young people understand domestic violence and abuse
- Camden Safety Net — independent domestic and sexual violence service (for over 18s).