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Child Exploitation

Child Exploitation

Child Exploitation is a type of abuse. When a child or young person is exploited they’re groomed by being given things, like gifts, drugs, money, status and affection. This is usually in exchange for carrying out a criminal activity, known as Child Criminal Exploitation or performing sexual activities, known as Child Sexual Exploitation.

Children can be taken to places in and outside of North Yorkshire, known as Trafficking to be exploited. They can be moved around different places in the country and abused by being forced to take part in criminal or sexual activities. Young people in gangs can also be exploited.

Sometimes abusers use violence and intimidation to frighten or force a child or young person, making them feel as they’ve no choice. They may give large sums of money or items, such as drugs, they can’t be repaid in order to control a young person.

Criminal Exploitation

Criminal exploitation of children and young people is an issue nationally and it is happening in North Yorkshire too.

Criminal exploitation takes many forms, the most common relating to the supply and movement of drugs (often referred to as “County Lines”), offences in relation to guns and other weapons, money laundering, violent offences and in some cases “cuckooing” where criminals forcibly take over control of a person’s home.

Harrogate Safer Communities, alongside NYCC Ripon & Rural Children and Families Service produced the below video to show how criminal exploitation can happen in North Yorkshire:

– Returning home late, staying out all night or going missing
– Being found in areas away from home
– Increasing drug use, or being found to have large amounts of drugs on them
– Being secretive about who they are talking to and where they are going
– Unexplained absences from school, college, training or work
– Unexplained money, phone(s), clothes or jewellery
– Increasingly disruptive or aggressive behaviour
– Using sexual, drug-related or violent language you wouldn’t expect them to know
– Coming home with injuries or looking particularly disheveled
– Having hotel cards or keys to unknown places

The North Yorkshire and York Trusted Relationships Project is one way in which young people aged 10-17 who are at risk of criminal exploitation are accessing support.

Through the project, young people are assigned to at trained worker to build a trusting relationship with over a long period time and develop skills to protect them from exploitation.

Currently, young people are referred to the project by North Yorkshire Children & Families Service.

For more information about the Trusted Relationship Project see the One Minute Guide at the bottom of this page.

If you think you or a young person you know could be in danger call the police on 999, or if you have non-urgent information to share with the police, call 101 or contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online.

If you are worried about yours or a friends safety, click onto the do you need some help section to find out which services can help.

The Children’s Society has lots of further information about criminal exploitation and how they are supporting young people who have experienced or at risk of experiencing this type of exploitation, find out more below:

Sexual Exploitation

Child Sexual Exploitation, often known as CSE can happen in person or online. An abuser will gain a child’s trust or control them through violence or blackmail before moving onto sexually abusing them. This can happen in a short period of time.

When a child is sexually exploited online they might be persuaded or forced to:

  • send or post sexually explicit images of themselves
  • film or stream sexual activities
  • have sexual conversations

CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection) have produced a short-film which helps young people learn to stay safe from sexual exploitation. It educates young people to identify features of an exploitative friendship or relationship in contrast with the development of a healthy relationship, and gives them clear information about how to report abuse and access support.:

– Unhealthy or inappropriate sexual behaviour
– Being frightened of some people, places or situations
– Being secretive
– Sharp changes in mood or character
– Having money or things they can’t or won’t explain
– Physical signs of abuse, like bruises or bleeding in their genital or anal area
– Alcohol or drug misuse
– Sexually transmitted infections
– Pregnancy

The Children’s Society Hand in Hand Project is running in North Yorkshire for young people who are experiencing or are at risk of sexual exploitation.

Dedicated specialist workers provide direct support to enable young people to recognise themselves as victims, increase resilience and make informed choices to lower the risk and/or stop the risk of exploitation increasing.

For more information about the Hand in Hand Project click onto their website here.

If you think you or a young person you know could be in danger call the police on 999, or if you have non-urgent information to share with the police, call 101 or contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online.

If you are worried about yours or a friends safety, click onto the do you need some help section to find out which services can help.

NSPCC & Think U Know has lots of further information and resources about what to do if you suspect you or a friend is experiencing sexual exploitation, find out more below:

Trafficking & Modern Slavery

Child trafficking and modern slavery are child abuse. Many children and young people are trafficked into the UK from other countries, but children are also trafficked around the UK, including North Yorkshire.

It can be difficult to know what to do if you’re worried about somebody who is being trafficked.

Trafficking is where children and young people are tricked, forced or persuaded to be moved or transported and then exploited, forced to work or sold. Children are trafficked for:
– sexual and criminal exploitation
– benefit fraud
– forced marriage
– domestic slavery like cleaning, cooking and childcare
– forced labour in factories or agriculture
– committing crimes, like theft, working on cannabis farms or moving drugs

Trafficked children experience many types of abuse and neglect. Traffickers use physical, sexual and emotional abuse as a form of control. Children and young people are also likely to be physically and emotionally neglected and may be sexually and/or criminally exploited.

It may not be obvious that a child has been trafficked but you might notice unusual or unexpected things, such as:
– spend a lot of time doing household chores
– rarely leave their house or have no time for playing
– be orphaned or living apart from their family
– live in low-standard accommodation
– be unsure which country, city or town they’re in
– can’t or are reluctant to share personal information or where they live
– not be registered with a school or a GP practice
– have no access to their parents or guardians
– be seen in inappropriate places like brothels or factories
– have money or things you wouldn’t expect them to
– have injuries from workplace accidents
– give a prepared story which is very similar to stories given by other children

Children who are trafficked are intentionally hidden and isolated from the services and communities who can identify and protect them. If you’re worried about somebody, you can take steps to keep them safe:
– If you think a child or young person is in danger, contact the police on 999
– Click onto the do you need some help section to find out which other services can help
– Contact the Modern Slavery Helpline to get help, report a suspicion or seek advice. Call 0800 012 1700 or fill in their online form.

NSPCC has lots of further information about what to do if you suspect somebody is being trafficked, find out more below:


Resource Library

Find the latest forms, guidance, tools and documents to help you safeguard children & young people in North Yorkshire by searching in our resource library


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