Government changes statutory definition of child sexual exploitation

The Department for Education has updated Working Together to reflect changes to the statutory definition of child sexual exploitation. It comes as new guidance is issued for practitioners working to protect children from sexual exploitation.

The new guidance, Child sexual exploitation: Definition and a guide for practitioners, local leaders and decision-makers working to protect children from child sexual exploitation, replaces the 2009 guidance, Safeguarding children and young people from sexual exploitation. Set out in two sections, the guidance has information for everyone whose work brings them into contact with children and families, and guidance for those in strategic and management roles who are planning responses to child sexual exploitation.

The guidance sets out the new definition of child sexual exploitation, highlights potential vulnerabilities and indicators of abuse, and describes appropriate action to take in response. The new definition of child sexual exploitation is:

“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 (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.”


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