Child Exploitation occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, control, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into any criminal activity (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or (b) for the financial or other advantage of the perpetrator or facilitator and/or (c) through violence or threat of violence. The victim may have been criminally exploited even if the activity appears consensual. Child Criminal Exploitation does not always involve physical contact, it can occur through the use of technology.
Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)
Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE), is the sexual abuse of a young person aged under 18 involving exploitative situations and relationships. The sexual activity often takes place in exchange for money, alcohol, drugs, or presents such as clothing or mobile phones.
A common feature is that the child or young person does not recognise the coercive nature of the relationship and does not see themselves as a victim of exploitation. Victims can be targeted in person or online and are often targeted because they are already vulnerable in some other way.
What is County Lines?
Children are being groomed into County Lines which is the police term for urban gangs supplying drugs to suburban areas as well as market and coastal towns, using dedicated mobile phone lines.
There are many reasons why young people feel the pressure to join gangs. They might be bored and looking for excitement or feel attracted to the status and power it can give them. They might join due to peer pressure, money or family problems. Gang membership can also make a child feel protected and that they belong.
Criminals are taking advantage new technology to exploit vulnerable young people into working for their gang without them realising they are a victim.