Understanding Child Sexual Exploitation & Charlie’s Story

For this month’s blog I’m handing over to Daksha Mistry from the Kingston and Richmond Local Safeguarding Children Board.

Child Abuse

My name is Daksha Mistry and I am one of the Coordinators for Kingston and Richmond Local Safeguarding Children Board.  One key part of my role is to be the lead on Child Sexual Exploitation for the board which involves raising awareness about Child Sexual Exploitation and working with all agencies to ensure good practice to identify and support victims of Child Sexual Exploitation.

What is Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)?

The sexual exploitation of children and young people (CSE) under-18 is defined as that which:

‘involves exploitative situations, contexts and relationships where young people (or a third person or persons) receive ‘something’ (e.g. food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, affection, gifts, money) as a result of them performing, and/or another or others performing on them, sexual activities. Child sexual exploitation can occur through the use of technology without the child’s immediate recognition; for example being persuaded to post sexual images on the Internet/mobile phones without immediate payment or gain. In all cases, those exploiting the child/young person have power over them by virtue of their age, gender, intellect, physical strength and/or economic or other resources. Violence, coercion and intimidation are common, involvement in exploitative relationships being characterised in the main by the child or young person’s limited availability of choice resulting from their social/economic and/or emotional vulnerability’ (Department for Education 2012)’.

Challenges to recognising CSE

CSE is often not recognised because of links to other types of crime and the vulnerability of the victims.

Sexual Exploitation is often linked to other types of crime including:

  • child trafficking (into, out of and within the UK)
  • domestic violence
  • sexual violence in intimate relationships
  • grooming (both online and offline)
  • viewing, creating or distributing abusive images of children
  • organised sexual abuse of children
  • gang related activity
  • immigration-related offences
  • domestic servitude

Case Study – Charlie’s Story

Charlie, a white British young woman who lives in a London borough, was sexually exploited from the age of 13 years old.

Charlie started using Facebook at age 12 and would communicate with friends of friends and didn’t think about whether she knew them or not.  She then would be added to strangers’ lists of friends.

they added me and they were talking to me at first and then they asked for pictures. Some I said no to some I didn’t really want to but I thought – well if they like me then I felt I had to

Charlie was only thirteen when she met a guy who groomed her online and she very quickly became emotionally dependent on him. He bought her expensive gifts and she believed him be her boyfriend and when they met she had sex with him – she at the time didn’t see it as rape.

From the age of 14 Charlie was taken by him to a variety of ‘parties’ across England that she reports were in nice houses and in some cases described as ‘mansions’. In these houses Charlie would be raped by several men, from a range of ethnicities, who were paying to use her. Charlie described a book being available with photographs and ages of all of the girls being sexually exploited by this particular group. Men could choose which girls they wanted. Charlie reported men paying those who were exploiting her up to £500 for an hour with her. Groups of men could also request one girl to share between them over a night, where the rape of the girl would be filmed. The operation involved men working the streets to pick up vulnerable girls, forming ‘relationships’ with them by grooming them and then passing them on to the men who controlled the business. If Charlie ever refused to comply, she would be beaten and her family threatened. Following the abuse, Charlie took several overdoses, was placed in secure accommodation, and self-harmed by cutting and ligaturing sometimes on a daily basis.

For further information including a guide for parents and carers and a leaflet for young people on CSE and tips for parents & carers about online safety or to report concerns you may have about possible CSE go to the LSCB website.

CSE conference

Kingston & Richmond LSCB will be hosting an awareness raising conference on CSE on 16/11/2016. Join us to hear guest speakers and meet colleagues from local businesses including hotels, taxi firms, food outlets, pubs & clubs. Click here for more information.

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