Child sexual exploitation (part one)
What is child sexual exploitation (CSE) ?
Sexual exploitation is a form of abuse where young people are forced or manipulated into sexual activity, often through being given ‘something’, including perceived affection, gifts, alcohol or drugs. The abuser is likely to groom the young person into trusting them – either face-to-face, online or both – and they then exploit this trust for their own gain.
They may manipulate the young person into believing they are in a consensual relationship and that they love them. Either way, the young person is being taken advantage of through this controlling behaviour. It is child abuse and the victims face huge risks to their physical, emotional and psychological health. The victim may experience sexual assault or rape - not just involving the abuser, but sometimes involving other persons.
Many young people who are being abused do not realise they are at risk and will not call for help. They may see themselves as willing participants when they are unable to give consent.
Who is most vulnerable?
Although CSE can affect any child, there are certain characteristics that make children and young people more vulnerable. This includes:
- Going missing from home, care or education
- Living in a chaotic or dysfunctional household, or a young carer
- History of abuse, recent bereavement or loss
- Association with other young people who are sexually exploited
- Having learning disabilities
- Being unsure about their sexual orientation or unable to disclose sexual orientation to their families
- Unstable living arrangements or in care
- Lacking friends from the same age group or having low self-esteem and self confidence