A collection of research on the sexual exploitation of children and young people.
"If only someone had listened": Office of the Children's Commissioner's Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Gangs and Groups: final report (PDF).
Berelowitz, S. et al
Office of the Children's Commissioner, 2013
Identifies good practice in addressing child sexual exploitation (CSE) in gangs and highlights gaps in the knowledge, practice and services required to tackle CSE. Outlines 'See Me, Hear Me' an evidence-based framework for protecting children and young people from CSE. Makes recommendations including: a review of the definition of CSE in the statutory guidance, 'Working together'; development of nationally and locally agreed information-sharing protocols; problem-profiling of victims, offenders, gangs, gang-associated girls, high risk businesses and neighbourhoods at national and local level; and provision of sex and relationship education for all children and young people.
"It's wrong... but you get used to it": a qualitative study of gang-associated sexual violence towards, and exploitation of, young people in England (PDF).
Beckett, H. et al
Office of the Children's Commissioner, 2013
Interviews with 118 13-28-year-olds and 76 professionals, exploring pathways into gang-related sexual violence and exploitation and potential effective multi-agency responses. Participants gave examples of girls being coerced into sexual activity, individual and multiple perpetrator rape and sex in exchange for tangible goods and protection. 1 in 12 interviewees thought young people would report experiences of sexual violence or exploitation. Recommendations include: promotion of healthy relationships, the concept of consent and the harm caused by rape and sexual assault through universal services; and gang-affected areas should have trained mentors and advocates to support young people at risk.
"Sex without consent, I suppose that is rape": how young people in England understand sexual consent (PDF).
Coy, M. et al
Office of the Children's Commissioner, 2013
Findings from an online survey, focus groups and interviews with 607 13-20-year-olds. Examines what informs, influences and limits their perceptions of consent to sex and their decision-making processes. Findings include: participants largely understood what is meant by giving consent but showed a limited understanding of what getting consent involves; gender, particularly masculinity, was the most significant influence on young people's understandings; and pornography was seen to play a significant role in young people's lives. Recommendations include: addressing pornography in sex and relationship education; and developing policies and practices that enable young people to critically explore gender.
Threat assessment of child sexual exploitation and abuse (PDF).
Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre, 2013
Examines threats posed to children in the UK from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse and the threat to children abroad from UK nationals. Looks at what the threats are and how it is believed they will develop over the coming year, in order to enable CEOP to set its strategic priorities for the year ahead. Lists four key threats: the proliferation of indecent images of children, online child sexual exploitation, transnational child sexual abuse and contact child sexual abuse. Reports that children aged 13 and 14 years represent the largest single victim group in reports to CEOP and explores how child sex offenders use technology online.
Giving victims a voice: joint report into sexual allegations made against Jimmy Savile (PDF).
Metropolitan Police Service and NSPCC, 2013
Report from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and the NSPCC, detailing the work of Operation Yewtree, the police investigation into allegations of sexual abuse made against Jimmy Savile and others. Key figures include: 600 people came forward with information, 450 relating to Jimmy Savile; 214 criminal offences have been recorded against 28 police forces; of his victims, 73% were children under 18. Key outcomes include: a significant rise in the level of reporting of past sexual abuse of children, increasing awareness about the importance of support for victims, collaboration between charities including NSPCC, NAPAC and CEOP, offering opportunities to develop further understanding and best joint working practices when dealing with victims of child sexual exploitation.
Cutting them free: how is the UK progressing in protecting its children from sexual exploitation? (PDF).
Report setting out the progress of Barnardo's Cut them free campaign and presenting the finding from a survey of their services in the UK. Focuses on what is still needed to protect and support children and young people for sexual exploitation. Outlines progress in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Considers in detail how far the campaign calls have been met in England, following on from Puppet on a string (2011).
Research into gang associated sexual exploitation and sexual violence: interim report. (PDF).
Beckett, H. et al
University of Bedfordshire, 2012
Outlines the progress of research into gang-associated sexual exploitation and sexual violence in England, commissioned by the Office of the Children's Commissioners for England as part of their Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Gangs and Groups. Key interim findings explore: features of sexual violence and exploitation that are unique to, or exacerbated by, the gang environment; gender differences among victims and perpetrators; reasons that gang-associated sexual violence and exploitation are rarely reported.
'I thought I was the only one. The only one in the world': the Office of the Children's Commissioner's inquiry into child sexual exploitation in gangs and groups: interim report. (PDF).
Berelowitz, S. et al
Office Of The Children's Commissioner, 2012
Reports on number of known victims of child sexual exploitation as perpetrated by groups and gangs, based on data submitted from police forces, children's services, health agencies, youth offending teams, and voluntary sector organisations who work with victims. Contains a list of warning signs for professionals, parents, carers, and society in general to identify victims, which includes: children going missing, substance and alcohol misuse, physical injuries, offending, and self-harming.
See the NSPCC's summary of the Children's Commissioner's inquiry into child sexual exploitation in gangs and groups interim report.
All of our concern: commercialisation, sexualisation and hypermasculinity (PDF).
Family Lives, 2012
Report on the commercialisation and sexualisation of children; discusses the progress made since the publication of the Bailey review (2011) and identifies areas which still require policy makers and parents' attention. Focuses on how boys are affected by commercialisation and sexualisation and how to engage them in preventative strategies. Also examines peer-on-peer sexual exploitation and violence, exploring the consequences of extreme gender identification and hypermasculinity, which is associated with sexual violence against girls. Includes recommendations for parents and policy makers.
Out of place: the policing and criminalisation of sexually exploited girls and young women (summary).
Howard Institute for Penal Reform, 2012
Analyses the decision-making processes of police, youth justice and non-statutory specialist sexual exploitation service providers in prosecuting and using criminal justice sanctions against girls and young women in prostitution related offences in England and Wales. Also looks at the experiences of sexually exploited young women and how they are policed. Findings include that England and Wales have tried to adopt a victim-oriented approach but this is undermined by the disjuncture between the law and policy. Emphasises that girls who are sexually exploited must always be treated as victims, never as criminals. Recommends the removal of the legal possibility of prosecuting a child for prostitution-related offences (i.e. age restricting any prostitution related offence to those over the age of sexual consent); and the development of clear guidance from central government to distinguish sexual exploitation from youth prostitution.
Still hidden? Going missing as an indicator of child sexual exploitation (PDF).
Missing People, 2012
Review examining the links between going missing and child sexual exploitation, including: the nature of links between going missing and child sexual exploitation; push and pull factors related to child sexual exploitation; missing from care; trafficking for child sexual exploitation; missing from home; abduction and kidnapping; and the need to go missing to escape from sexual exploitation. Highlights the importance of greater vigilance and more rigorous reporting of 'missing' incidents to protect children from serious exploitation and abuse.
Caught in a trap: the impact of grooming in 2012.
Turnbull, M., Davies, R. and Brown, C.
Reports on children's experiences of sexual grooming in the UK. Looks at the number of contacts received by ChildLine about sexual abuse, the number in which a child specifically described aspects of sexual grooming; and the characteristics of victims of sexual grooming. Looks at the grooming process and the impact it has on the children involved. Includes a number of case studies.
Puppet on a string: the urgent need to cut children free from sexual exploitation (PDF).
Examines what is known about the scale and nature of child sexual exploitation, and provides evidence from Barnardo's services on the developing trends. Considers issues such as child trafficking, internet grooming and peer exploitation. Policy recommendations are focused on England only, but the report draws on experiences in each of the nations to show that this is a UK-wide issue that needs to be taken seriously by governments across the UK. Includes case studies.
Out of mind, out of sight: breaking down the barriers to understanding child sexual exploitation.
Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre, 2011
Investigates street grooming and child sexual exploitation, and aimed to establish whether patterns of offending, victimisation or vulnerability could be identified. Refers to 'localised grooming' only and does not include online grooming or trafficking. Provides an outline of trends, themes and patterns based on six months of research. It looks at prevalence, patterns, interventions, and makes recommendations to improve interventions and reduce risk to children in the future. Found that more than 2000 children were victims of child sexual exploitation. Also available: executive summary (PDF).
Briefing document: CSE and youth offending (PDF).
Cockbain, E. and Brayley, H.
UCL. Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science, 2011
Summarises key findings from research into the association between child sexual exploitation (CSE) and youth offending in Derby. Explores patterns of offending, along with their implications for policy and practice. Found that nearly 40% of CSE victims in Derby were involved in offending behaviour and 70% reoffended. Suggests that youth offending may reduce the likelihood of reporting CSE and affect witnesses' credibility. Concludes that although findings suggest that CSE and youth offending are closely intertwined, the available data did not indicate that CSE routinely causes offending behaviour.
This is it. This is my life…female voice in violence: final report on the impact of serious youth violence and criminal gangs on women and girls across the country. (PDF)
Race on the Agenda, 2011
Final report of the Female Voice in Violence (FVV) project which assessed the impact of serious youth violence, gangs and serious group offending on women and girls. Draws on research from interviews and focus groups involving over 300 women, girls and males across four cities in England and highlights that the impact of serious youth and gang related violence (including sexual violence and sexual exploitation) should be recognised as a child protection issue and addressed in policy and practice. Also identifies examples of good practice by voluntary organisations.
What’s going on to safeguard children and young people from sexual exploitation? How local partnerships respond to child sexual exploitation (PDF).
Jago, S. et al
University of Bedfordshire, 2011
A report reviewing the ways Local Safeguarding Children Boards are protecting children and young people from sexual exploitation. Findings include: LSCBs are failing to protect young people and the current thresholds for intervention through child protection procedures are set too high. Recommendations include: review how the court process impacts on young people, and ensure training for professionals working with young people covers the issue of child sexual exploitation.
The protection of children online: a brief scoping review to identify vulnerable groups (PDF).
Munro, E. R.
Childhood Wellbeing Research Centre, 2011
Examines what is known about the protection of children online. Covers a wide variety of issues, including: cyber-bullying, sexual solicitation and grooming, and pornography and other harmful content. Outlines recommendations for areas in need of further research, including: factors that make some young people more vulnerable than others; how risk and protective factors influence outcomes; and how services can better protect children from online harm.
Young people and sexual exploitation: 'It's not hidden, you just aren't looking'.
Pearce, J. J.
Explores the difficulties that arise for researchers and practitioners working with sexually exploited young people. The first part explores the historical context of sexual exploitation, identifying how it arose from child prostitution. It looks more closely at current policy framework within the UK, identifying the range of interventions that can be used to support sexually exploited young people. Considers the needs of trafficked children and young people and addresses the links between sexual exploitation and domestic violence, and working with adolescents in violent relationships. Part two looks at risk factors and resilience in sexually exploited young people, and research and young people's participation in the field of sexual exploitation. Explores the therapeutic needs of sexually exploited children and young people.
Gathering evidence of the sexual exploitation of children and young people: a scoping exercise (PDF).
Jago, S. and Pearce, J.
University of Bedfordshire, 2008
Reports on a study commissioned by the government to look at the way local partnerships (including Local Safeguarding Children Boards and police forces) tackle the sexual exploitation of children and young people through the disruption and prosecution of offenders. Covers: the multi-agency approach; the foundation for effective evidence gathering; developing a disruption plan; preparing a prosecution case; and awareness raising, training and guidance.
Child pornography and sexual exploitation of children online (PDF).
Quayle, E., Loof, L. and Palmer, T.
ECPAT International, 
Examines the potential harms posed to children by new technologies and how to differentiate between sexual abuse, sexual exploitation and commercial sexual exploitation in the online environment. Argues that new media blurs the boundaries between these and provide a context that affords opportunities for both the abuse and the exploitation of children and by children. Considers what is known about adult offending activity online and those who engage in it, and the technologies used.
It's someone taking a part of you: a study of young women and sexual exploitation.
Pearce, J., Williams, M. L. and Galvin, C.
National Children's Bureau (NCB), 2002
Based on 55 case studies, conducted in partnership with the NSPCC, considers the choices and opportunities available to young women who are at risk of, or are experiencing, sexual exploitation. Presents young women's accounts of their experiences, identifies three categories of risk: at risk of sexual exploitation; swapping sex for accommodation, money, drugs or other favours 'in kind'; and selling sex, and recommends interventions that could take place at each stage to support the young women concerned. A summary of this report is available: The choice and opportunity project: young women and sexual exploitation (PDF).
Child sexual abuse homepage
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Child trafficking homepage
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News, policy, practice and research (CASPAR)
Keep up to date with the most recent developments in child protection from CASPAR, the current awareness service for child protection policy, practice and research.
Search the NSPCC Library Online for more research on child sexual exploitation.
The National Working Group (NWG) Network links over 1000 practitioners who are working on the issues of child sexual exploitation (CSE) and trafficking in the UK. The network provides support, advice, updates on the latest CSE developments, research, policy and practice resources. It also organises awareness raising activities and influences the development of national and local policy as informed by practice. The network has developed 'Our Voice' a forum for young people affected by CSE to enable their voices to be heard