Child Protection Guidance 2021

Part 4: Specific support needs and concerns 163 National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2021 Version 1.0 September 2021 Child sexual exploitation 4.184 This section should be read in conjunction with sections on sexual abuse, under-age sexual activity and harmful sexual behaviour by children and young people. 4.185 Article 34 of the UNCRC requires public authorities to undertake to protect children from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, in particular, by taking all appropriate national, bilateral and multilateral measures to prevent: • the inducement or coercion of a child to engage in any unlawful sexual activity • the exploitative use of children in prostitution or other unlawful sexual practices • the exploitative use of children in pornographic performances and materials 4.186 Definition. Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a form of child sexual abuse in which a person or persons of any age take advantage of a power imbalance to force or entice a child into engaging in sexual activity, in return for something received by the child and/or those perpetrating or facilitating the abuse. As with other forms of child sexual abuse, the presence of perceived consent does not excuse or mitigate the abusive nature of the act. 4.187 ‘Child’ in this context means child or young person up to age 18. Boys as well as girls may be victims. Although CSE is not a specific criminal offence in itself, there is a range of criminal and civil options that can be used to disrupt and prosecute this form of abuse. See this link for a definition and practitioner briefing. 4.188 A child protection response is required , the manner of which will be determined following an inter-agency referral discussion. ‘Disclosure’ is not a prerequisite for a child protection investigation. CSE is under-recognised. 4.189 Exchange is the distinguishing factor in the various forms of CSE. The nature of the exchange may be material and emotional, including, food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, gifts, affection, or a sense of belonging. In some situations the abuser or facilitator may also achieve financial gain or status. Alcohol or drugs may be given to the child. Exchange may take the form of compliance with sexual activity in order to avert a threat of harm to the child or to someone close to them. Children who have shared images of themselves may experience threats unless they comply with an abuser’s demands. Perpetrators manipulate and apply coercive control. 4.190 In all forms of CSE there is an imbalance of power. This may relate to the abuser’s age, gender, intellect, physical strength or other resources. Grooming may draw a child or children in to abusive processes or events. Grooming means targeting, befriending and establishing an emotional link with a child in order to manipulate, exploit, traffick or otherwise abuse them. Grooming can take place over a short or long period of time – from weeks to years. Violence and intimidation may form part of the coercion. Grooming can involve forming relationships with a child’s family or friends and manipulating their trust or reliance in order to abuse a child. 4.191 A child may be drawn in to CSE in search of some form of affection, relationship or belonging. The child may or may not understand this as abuse. This does not equate to choice and consent, even for a 16- or 17-year-old who might legally consent to sex. 4.192 CSE may be associated with child criminal exploitation (CCE) . CCE is not defined in law but is a term that has come to be associated with ‘county lines’. County lines is a term used in the UK to describe gangs and organised criminal networks involved in exporting illegal drugs into one or more importing areas (within the UK), using dedicated mobile phone lines or other forms of ‘deal line’. They are likely to exploit children and vulnerable adults to move and store the drugs and money, and they will often use coercion, intimidation, violence (including sexual violence) and weapons.