The world of Safeguarding is ever changing.
It is becoming increasingly complex and child exploitation and serious violence towards children is escalating. Child exploitation should not be seen in isolation as it often overlaps with peer-on-peer violence and abuse, modern day slavery, harmful sexual behaviour, gang and group activity, County Lines, anti-social and offending behaviour and going missing from home or care. Together these create a set of harmful circumstances and experiences for children and young people who are often already affected by Trauma in early life.
The exploitation of children and young people has been identified throughout the UK, in both rural and urban areas.
It affects all children from all backgrounds, and it can have a serious impact on every aspect of the lives of children involved and on their families. Due to its nature, child exploitation is a crime that has no borders.
Forms of Abuse
Please be aware that all forms of exploitation are considered to be abuse. Understanding of the context, situations, and relationships in which exploitation of children is likely to manifest is an essential component to understanding the child's situation.
There are four main categories of child abuse: physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect. The first step in helping children who have been abused or neglected is learning to recognise the signs of maltreatment. To protect children, school staff need to be professionally curious and know the signs to look for.
- Physical Abuse is when someone hurts a child or young person on purpose, causing a non-accidental physical injury to a child.
- Emotional Abuse or psychological abuse) is a pattern of behaviour that impairs a child's emotional development or sense of self-worth.
- Neglect is when a child or young person's basic needs are persistently not being met by their parent or guardian.
- Sexual Abuse is when a child is enticed or forced to take part in sexual activities.
As well as threats to the welfare of children from within their families, children may be vulnerable to abuse or exploitation from outside their families.
These extra-familial threats might arise at school and other educational establishments, from within peer groups, or more widely from within the wider community and/or online. Threats can take a variety of different forms and children can be vulnerable to multiple threats, including exploitation by criminal gangs and organised crime groups such as county lines; trafficking, online abuse; sexual exploitation and the influences of extremism leading to radicalisation.
Children too need to be aware of the ways in which they may be naively drawn into such situations.
The more awareness professionals and members of the public have the better we are at learning how to spot the signs in children and young people to enable us to report, respond and support children in sometimes desperate and life changing situations.