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child exploitation awareness day; are you able to spot the signs?

Last month’s child exploitation awareness day on the 18th of March was focused on getting everyone to THINK, SPOT, and SPEAK OUT AGAINST ABUSE.

A graphic that says think twice think abuse

child exploitation

CE is a form of abuse that involves the manipulation and/or coercion of young people under the age of 18. It encompasses all the ways by which children and young people can be exploited, including Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) and criminal exploitation. The criminal exploitation of children is an issue which is gaining more of a national focus and is closely related to County Lines, and other ways children and young people are drawn into drugs related criminal activity.

child sexual exploitation

Child sexual exploitation is a form of child sexual abuse and exploitation. 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. When sexual exploitation happens online, young people may be persuaded, or forced, to:

  • send or post sexually explicit images of themselves

  • take part in sexual activities via a webcam or smartphone

  • have sexual conversations by text or online.


Sending indecent images or ‘sexting’ or ‘sending nudes’ is illegal for anyone under the age of 18. Any image of an individual under 18 years old is classed as child pornography.


For further information on CSE please refer to the organisations below.

county lines

Criminal exploitation or ‘county lines’ is when gangs and organised crime networks exploit children to sell drugs. Often these children are made to travel across counties and they use dedicated mobile phone lines to supply drugs. We call it county lines simply because of the number/phone line used to sell and order drugs.


Gangs deliberately target vulnerable children, such as young people in care or care leavers. They know that these children could potentially be more unsafe, unloved and want a place to belong.


For further information on criminal exploitation please refer to the organisations below.

extremism and radicalism

Extremism is used to describe an ideology that is considered by most people to be far outside acceptable, mainstream attitudes of society. Radicalisation is the process by which an individual or group adopts extreme political, social or religious views. People can ‘self-radicalise’, by reading or listening to extremist literature or speakers. More commonly, there may be an individual or group actively seeking to persuade others to adopt their views. This process of persuasion or coercion is known as radicalisation.


The Home Office works with local authorities, a wide range of government departments, and community organisations to deliver the Prevent strategy. The police also play a significant role in Prevent, in much the same way as they do when taking a preventative approach to other crimes. Prevent provides practical help to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism and ensure they are given appropriate advice and support and focuses on early intervention before any illegal activity takes place.


Whilst the media grabs our attention with stories of Islamic extremist terrorism we must be careful to not forget the rising and largely socially accepted threat that far right movements and groups have.

For further information on radicalisation and extremism please use caution, many websites can be a front for the distribution of extremist materials.

human trafficking and modern slavery

Human trafficking and modern slavery are thought to be amongst the most widespread crimes in the world, affecting millions of men, women and children each day.


Human trafficking is defined as the act of recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons by means of threat, force or coercion, abduction, deception or giving payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person for the purposes of exploitation.


Modern slavery encompasses:

  • Slavery

  • Human trafficking

  • Servitude

  • Forced or compulsory labour


Traffickers and slave masters use whatever means they have at their disposal to coerce, deceive and force individuals into a life of abuse, servitude, and inhumane treatment.

For more information on human trafficking and modern slavery please refer to the organisations below.

spotting the signs

It is important to know what to look out for so you can help protect young people from exploitation.

NWG have a comprehensive list of signs on their website that you can look at to get informed.

If you suspect that a child or young person is being exploited, please use the contact details on the following poster to report your concerns.

If you are a young person using an asphaleia service and you have concerns about yourself or another young person, please speak to staff.

A poster from NWG that has speech bubbles saying they're safe in the sports centre aren't they, follow by exploitation can happen anywhere, anytime. There are contact details for crimestoppers and the police


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