You might have heard the words child exploitation at school, at home, or even on the news - but what does it really mean?
It's when someone you meet, a friend, or maybe your boyfriend or girlfriend, someone who is supposed to care for you, ends up hurting you, frightening you, or persuading or expecting you to do things you don't want to do.
But you might not have even met them, you could have talked to them online, maybe sent pictures to each other, before arranging to meet.
They take advantage of you by giving you the illusion that they love or care for you by giving you gifts such as clothes, food, alcohol and cigarettes, in exchange for something. Things may start off feeling good until they begin to want something in return for all they have given to you.
You may feel like you or your friend has gone along with it, but this doesn’t matter.
All children and young people have a right to be safe and should be protected from all forms of abuse.
This is child exploitation.
There are lots of different kinds of exploitation:
People who use the internet to groom and exploit children and young people via social media and gaming sites
Child Sexual Exploitation
When a young person is encouraged, or forced, to take part in sexual activity in exchange for something
When someone is manipulated to commit crimes such as shoplifting, drug dealing and pickpocketing
Organised crimes where criminals, often based in urban areas, pressurise vulnerable young people to transport, store and sell drugs into other towns
This type of exploitation can happen very quickly. Children can be offered accommodation, money, lifts, drugs, alcohol etc in exchange for sexual activity
This may happen with a group of friends. It can often happen quite publicly and images and videos are often circulated around school
When a group of offenders work together to force children to have sex with multiple adults
A form of modern slavery - the movement of people by force, fraud and deception with the aim of exploiting them
When people are forced to work for little or no pay and are often threatened with punishment
Someone who works within their employer’s home but their freedom is restricted, often working long hours for little pay
Child Sexual Abuse
When a child is enticed or forced to take part in sexual activities
Exploitation affects hundreds of children and young people every year in Warwickshire. If you think that you or someone you know is being exploited, here's what to look out for:
What to look out for:
- unexpected and expensive gifts or money
- being given cigarettes, alcohol or other expensive items
- hanging out with older people
- being picked up from school by strangers
- using drugs and drinking alcohol
- mood swings
- sometimes disappearing or going missing
- staying out late
- being secretive about where you're going
- being secretive with your mobile phone, laptop, tablet or other electronic devices
- lack of interest in activities and hobbies
- skipping school
If this sounds familiar or you think this may be happening to someone you know, please get help by reporting it to Warwickshire Police via their website
or calling them on 101. If you're worried about reporting something, you can also talk to an adult you trust such as a family friend, relative, teacher or another adult.
Always call 999 in an emergency if you or someone you know is in immediate danger.