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Child Exploitation - Information for Professionals

Child Criminal Exploitation

Child Criminal Exploitation occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of a person under the age of 18 and may coerce, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under that age into any criminal activity

  1. In exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or
  2. For the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator and/or
  3. Through violence or the threat of violence. The victim may be exploited even if the activity appears consensual (for example moving drugs or the proceeds of drugs from one place to another).

Child Criminal Exploitation does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur through the use of technology.  (Home Office 2018)

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

  1. In exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or
  2. 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. (Home Office 2017)

Further information can be found in the following documents:

There is a progress report detailing the Government’s work in this area along with forward commitment Tackling child sexual exploitation: progress report.

Who is at risk?

Any child or young person may be at risk of exploitation, regardless of their family background or other circumstances. This includes boys and young men as well as girls and young women. However, some groups of young people are particularly vulnerable.  These include:

  • children and young people who have a history of running away or of going missing from home and care;
  • those with special needs;
  • those in and leaving residential and foster care;
  • migrant children, including those who do not have a legal immigration status;
  • unaccompanied asylum seeking children;
  • children who have disengaged from education;
  • children who are abusing drugs and alcohol;
  • those involved in gangs;
  • those engaged in risky internet use.

Factors and involved considerations

  • Pull factors: children performing tasks for others resulting in them gaining affection, accommodation, food, gifts, status or a sense of safety, money or drugs; often the hook is through the perpetrator supplying Class B drugs such as cannabis to the child or young person.
  • Push factors: children escaping from situations where their needs are neglected and there is exposure to unsafe individuals, where there is high family conflict or the absence of a primary attachment figure.
  • Control: Manipulation, violence and threats of violence by those exploiting the child particularly when the child or young person is identified by the police, they are expected to take full responsibility for the offences for which they are charged – for example possession and supply of illegal substances.
  • Many young people do not recognise that they are being exploited or that they are at risk. The majority of children who are vulnerable to criminal exploitation are male, however the possibilities of female involvement should not be dismissed.
  • It is imperative that in recognising CE as a priority, it is co-considered alongside children who go missing, Child Criminal Exploitation, Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) and modern day slavery, as all are intrinsically linked.

It is important to note that perpetrators of CE may themselves be children who are criminally exploited and that the victims of CE may also be at risk of becoming perpetrators.


What to do if you suspect a child is being sexually exploited.

If you are concerned about a child

In the Bradford district, these are the numbers that you can ring for advice and to make a referral:

  • During office hours (8.30am to 5pm Monday to Thursday, 4.30pm on Friday) call Children’s Social Services Initial Contact Point on 01274 435600
  • At all other times, Social Services Emergency Duty Team on 01274 431010
  • If you have reason to believe that a child is at IMMEDIATE RISK OF HARM, contact the police on 999
  • For all general enquiries, please contact Children’s Specialist Services on 01274 435600

You need to ensure that you speak to the appropriate organisations who can listen to and record your concern, and then take appropriate action.

“Using the trauma model to understand the impact of sexual exploitation on children.” – by Norma Howes

Norma Howes has worked as a social worker, child forensic psychologist and sensorimotor psychotherapist. She is involved in training police, social workers, health and education staff in all aspects of childhood trauma and abuse, specialising in assessing and treating all victims of sexual trauma and the assessment of male and female perpetrators.

This guide offers practitioners a detailed explanation of both the psychological impact sexual exploitation can have on children and young people and some of the factors that can make victims vulnerable. It uses the trauma model to discuss what to consider when working with these children, ways to talk to them about their experience, start to build trust and offer support.


Please check our training section of the website for both e-learning and face to face training in relation to child sexual exploitation.

NHS training videos

During 2016-17 as part of the national CSE work plan NHS England North commissioned Fixers to produce with children and young people a set of videos relating to abuse and access to health services.  The videos are now finalised for wider sharing and use.  Please find the links below:

For further information regarding Fixers go to Fixers.

This document sets out the procedures in Bradford for safeguarding and protecting the welfare of
children from Child Exploitation. It outlines how through our partnerships we assess, challenge and
provide an enhanced, effective service to reduce the risks and to ensure that interventions are
focussed, co-ordinated and have a positive impact on outcomes for children and young people.

The protocol can be accessed here

A video learning tool can be accessed here