Child Sexual Exploitation: New definition

This is a very short and brief outline looking at Child Sexual Exploitation, there is a lot to say on this topic which cannot be covered in a short blog.  However, I’d like to introduce you to the subject and to give you some guidance in terms of the definition, the types of young people that could be affected and also some pointers in terms of the sort of signs you may see if a child or young person is being sexually exploited.

The first thing that I want to look at is the definition.

In February 2017 the government has finally provided a definition of child sexual exploitation:

“Child sexual exploitation is a form of child sexual abuse. It occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into sexual activity (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or (b) for the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator.

“The victim may have been sexually exploited even if the sexual activity appears consensual. Child sexual exploitation does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur through the use of technology.”


The Working Together documentation has been updated. That’s here.

You can find the Practitioners Guide here too.

Child Sexual Exploitation is when those in a position of power or trust use that power or trust to sexually abuse a young person or child under the age of 16, or 18 in some cases, depending on the vulnerability of that person.

The power that a person has over a young person can come from a number of places.  It can be in the form of their gender, their age, their role in that person’s social group or society, their strength, physical or otherwise, it may come from money or it could be something else completely different that has allowed that person to have that position of power and trust over that young person.

Let’s look at the young people who are most likely to be affected by Child Sexual Exploitation.

I think it’s fair to say that any young person could potentially be affected by Child Sexual Exploitation.  However, there are a number of groups of people who are particularly more likely to be vulnerable to Child Sexual Exploitation and they’re at greater risk.  These young people fall into categories such as

  • they’re homeless,
  • they may be young people or children who have feelings of low self-esteem.
  • There may be children or young people who’ve suffered a recent loss or a recent bereavement and are struggling to cope with that.

In the Press you hear a lot about young people who are in care who have been at risk of Child Sexual Exploitation or have been sexually exploited, and young carers also are at risk of being sexually exploited too.

One of the things you need to remember that can be particularly hard when you’re dealing with such issues is that those that are being sexually exploited don’t necessarily realise that this non-consensual sex or oral sex, this is actually rare and it’s important to remember that the age of consent in the UK, certainly England & Wales is 16.  Regardless of whether it may appear consensual, when an 18 year old says a 15 year old agreed to have sex, it’s still rape because that child does not have the ability to consent.

With the legal definition, a person between 16years to 18 years cannot consent to the sexual act if it is for the gain of the perpetrator.

I now want to briefly explore the sorts of signs that you might see in a young person that could indicate that Child Sexual Exploitation is taking place.

This is situations such as when a child or young person goes missing for periods of time, or is perpetually returning late and perhaps there’s no real explanation of where they’ve been, what they’re doing, what’s been happening.  The child or young person may be missing school or skipping school or they may be becoming disruptive in class.  They could suddenly start getting unexplained gifts or have new items lying around.  One of the things to watch out for is mobile phones, these gifts appear and they’re not able to provide an explanation for them.  There may be health problems in certain young people; for example, they may start suffering from sexually transmitted infections, mood swings more so than your average hormonal teenager or young person, that would indicate that something isn’t right.  You may even notice that young people and children are starting to use drugs or misuse alcohol.

If in doubt about how this may affect you, please get in touch.

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Content Disclaimer

The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this blog are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this blog. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this blog. Katherine T Young Ltd & Kate Young disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this blog.

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