According to a new government definition, child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a form of child sexual abuse, and takes place
“When 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.”
These common characteristics of CSE can manifest in different ways; there isn’t just one type of exploitation.
In Community Care Inform Children’s guide to the forms of CSE, Emilie Smeaton, research director of Paradigm Research, covers different types of perpetrators and the means through which children are exploited. Here, we give a quick snapshot of four different forms of CSE. Inform subscribers can read the full guide and access other resources on our CSE knowledge and practice hub.
This form of exploitation involves children being enticed, forced or coerced into sexual activity by other children. Peer-on-peer exploitation can take place without the involvement or adults, or can involve adults exploiting children and young people to exploit other children.
Older boyfriend or girlfriend
A child is groomed by an adult to believe that they are in a loving relationship. The adult may entice, coerce or force the child to have sex with them, and sometimes also with the adult’s friends or associates.
Organised or networked
In this form of CSE, children are passed through networks of perpetrators, sometimes over geographical distances and between different cities. They may be forced or coerced into sexual activity with multiple adults. They may also be used to recruit other children into the network.
Position of responsibility
As stated in the new definition, CSE involves an imbalance of power. Some perpetrators may be in positions of responsibility – such as teachers, religious leaders, sports coaches – and manipulate this in order to sexually exploit children.
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