Child sexual exploitation is a crime with devastating and long lasting consequences for its victims and their families. Childhoods and family life can be ruined and this is compounded when victims, or those at risk of abuse, do not receive appropriate, immediate and on-going support. The first response to children, and support for them to access help, must be the best it can be from social workers, police, health practitioners and others who work with children and their families.
In Putting Children First (July 2016) the Government set out its ambitions to support vulnerable children to lead safe and positive lives, to become successful adults and to have the kind of happy childhood that we want for all our children. We want children and families to have confidence in turning to practitioners for help and protection from abuse, neglect and exploitation. This help and protection should be provided in a timely, enduring and flexible manner, and be the best it can possibly be. This requires children, parents and carers affected by child sexual exploitation to feel part of the solution and confident they will be believed. Practitioners should work together to reduce the immediate risk of harm to children and collaborate to develop long term strategies to improve children’s life chances.
This applies as much to child sexual exploitation as to other forms of abuse or neglect. The hidden nature of child sexual exploitation and the complexities involved means professional curiosity, and always being alert to the issue, is vital.
About this advice
This advice is non-statutory, and has been produced to help practitioners, local leaders and decision makers who work with children and families to identify child sexual exploitation and take appropriate action in response. This includes the management, disruption and prosecution of perpetrators.
This advice replaces the 2009 guidance Safeguarding children and young people from sexual exploitation.
It should be read alongside Working Together to Safeguard Children(most recent updates available on gov.uk) which continues to provide statutory guidance covering the legislative requirements on services to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, including in relation to child sexual exploitation.
A child is anyone who has not yet reached their 18th birthday. Throughout this advice the terms ‘child’ and ‘children’ are used to refer to all those under the age of 18.
Who is this advice for?
This advice is intended to help all those working with children, and their parents and carers, to understand child sexual exploitation and what action should be taken to identify 4 and support victims. The online annexes to this document set out work to tackle perpetrators, another critical element of an holistic response