Knowsley Safeguarding Children Board (KSCB) has adopted the definition of sexual exploitation that is set out in Safeguarding Children and Young People from Sexual Exploitation, Supplementary Guidance to Working Together to Safeguard Children.
“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, intellect, 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.”
Pace (Parents Against CSE), in partnership with Virtual College, has launched an interactive online information package for parents on the signs of child sexual exploitation. This free tool is designed to equip parents with the information and knowledge to safeguard children from this abuse.
Please see a list of phone apps (applications) that children and young people might access via their mobile phones and tablets. We know that children and young people can be contacted or even groomed this way.
What We Know About Children and Young People at Risk
It is important to recognise that all children and young people may be at risk of child sexual exploitation. This includes children and young people in strong and loving family units. Perpetrators can and do target a wide range of children and practitioners should be alert to this issue whenever concerns about a child are noticed.
There are however some children and young people who have greater vulnerability and these include:
- Children who are looked after, especially those living in residential care
- Children who have a history of physical, sexual, emotional abuse or neglect
- Children who have a disability, mental health problem or sensory impairment
- Children who are young carers
- Children who are excluded from school or missing education
- Children who use drugs or alcohol
- Children who go missing from home or care
- Children who have suffered a bereavement
- Children involved in crime
- Children with parents/carers who have mental health problems, physical or learning difficulties or sensory impairment, who abuse drugs and/or alcohol
- Children living in households where there is domestic abuse
- Children who associate with others involved in child sexual exploitation
There are a number of indicators which should alert parents, carers and practitioners to the possibility that a child is being abused through or at risk of child sexual exploitation:
- adults or older youths loitering outside the child‟s home, care placement or school
- persistently missing, staying out overnight or returning late with no plausible explanation
- leaving home/care setting in clothing unusual for the individual child (inappropriate for age, borrowing clothing from older young people)
- acquisition of expensive clothes or clothes which are inappropriate (skimpy clothing, underwear etc.) mobile phones or other possessions without plausible explanation
- truancy/disengagement with education or considerable change in performance at school
- volatile behaviour exhibiting extreme array of mood swings or use of abusive language
- getting involved in petty crime such as shoplifting, stealing
- entering or leaving vehicles driven by unknown adults
- hostility in relationship with parents/carers and other family members
- returning after having been missing, looking well cared for in spite of having no known home base
- returning after having been missing in a dishevelled state, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, hungry, dirty, dehydrated, distressed etc.
- Showing signs of sexual activity/abuse, including sexually transmitted infections, terminations and pregnancy scares
- Being picked up from outside home, school or on the street in unknown cars or taxis which have not been booked