Haringey Safeguarding Children Parternsip Logo

Sexually Exploited Children or Young People

Barnardo’s defines Sexual Exploitation as:

"Any involvement of a child or young person under the age of 18 years in sexual activity for which remuneration in cash or in kind is given to the child or young person or to a third person or persons. The perpetrator will have power over the child or young person by virtue of one or more of the following: age, emotional maturity, gender, physical strength or intellect."


Sexual Exploitation is about control, power and grooming:

  1. Ensnaring:
    A vulnerable, often socially isolated and needy, young person begins a sexual relationship with an older person (perpetrator), who makes the young person feel special (attention, gifts)
  2. Dependency:
    The perpetrator gradually destroys the young person's ties to others. The young person will become physically isolated.
  3. Taking Control:
    The perpetrator controls all aspects of the young person's life. The young person may become frightened but will probably think it is their own fault and feel guilty. The perpetrator may grant small indulgences such as drugs and alcohol.
  4. Total Dominance:
    The perpetrator has created a 'willing victim'. The young person may agree to have sex with others who are introduced as 'friends’ or may be put to work on the streets.


Boys and girls may be drawn into sexual exploitation by peers who are already involved. Girls in particular are frequently coerced into sexual exploitation by an older man, posing as and viewed by them as their boyfriend. The girl is physically and emotionally dependent upon him, which may be reinforced by the use of alcohol and drugs. Over time, access to friends and family becomes curtailed and the child becomes alienated from agencies which may be able to identify and interrupt the abuse.

Sexually exploited children are rarely visible on the streets, and grooming children for abuse via the Internet has contributed to the invisibility of the sexual exploitation of children (ICT-based forms of abuse).

Increasingly, victims are identified under 16 years of age, across all cultures. Many children are exploited in the community, although the behaviours associated with exploitation may bring them into care and a significant number of children are targeted whilst being looked after by LA children’s social care.

The Office of the Children's Commissioner's Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Gangs and Groups - Interim Report

I thought I was the only one. The only one in the world (PDF 2.93MB) was produced by The Children’s Commissioner at the end of the first year of this Inquiry into the sexual exploitation of children in gangs and groups and includes powerful accounts of young people’s experiences. The report includes a warning signs and vulnerabilities checklist for practitioners working with children.

Website by: Taylorfitch