Child Sexual Exploitation is a form of child abuse and a complex crime. The term covers a wide range of circumstances and behaviours. For example a child or young person can be targeted online and then persuaded, tricked, or threatened into sending intimate pictures or acting sexually on webcam. However, sexual exploitation is just as likely to happen as part of an ongoing relationship where sex is exchanged in return for something – money, a new mobile phone, game credits, somewhere to stay or even just the promise of attention and affection.
The most common model of exploitation that we have identified has involved lone males using the internet to target multiple victims. However exploitation also happens in the community when young people become involved in controlling and abusive relationships. There is no typical perpetrator of sexual exploitation, offenders come from all backgrounds and range in age from 14 to 78.
What makes children and young people vulnerable to sexual exploitation?
Anyone can become a victim of sexual exploitation. Young people spend so much of their free time online - chatting to friends, sharing pictures, or gaming - that it is easy for them to form online friendships with people they don't really know.
The problem is that the other side of the conversation could be anyone. Exploiters trawl social media friendship groups and gaming sites, looking for victims to target and groom. We also know that offenders will use the internet to hide things about themselves, like their age or gender, and that adolescents are particularly vulnerable if someone offers them sought-after attention and affection, even if it's not genuine.
Not all sexual exploitation happens online; children and young people are also exploited in the community. Recent research has shown that if a young person is feeling unloved and ignored, has problems at home or at school, or has nowhere permanent to live, this can make them more vulnerable to sexual exploitation. A young person may feel that they need to remain in an exploitative relationship in order to survive. However it is important to remember that children and young people are never responsible for their exploitation; the people who perpetrate this type of abuse are good at recognising and exploiting a young person's needs and vulnerabilities and needs. Sexual exploiters are very manipulative and it can be difficult for the victim to recognise and understand what is happening to them.
What are we doing in Lincolnshire to tackle child sexual exploitation?
In Lincolnshire we have set up the multi-agency child exploitation (MACE) process which takes the lead on identifying, disrupting, and prosecuting cases of child sexual exploitation.
23 Mar 20 9:22 AM