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Child exploitation

Child exploitation: key definitions

Two primary school aged children work quietly in a classroom.

For Child Exploitation Awareness Day 2024, Catch22 released an updated version of the Catch On child exploitation resources to include activities that are suitable for children and young people with special educational needs and definitions. As part of this resource, we produced a list of simplified definitions for key terms relating to exploitation.

We’ve received really positive feedback that these definitions are much easier for children and young people to understand, than those typically found online or in statutory guidelines. Accordingly, we have produced a poster for teachers, youth workers, and professionals, which can be printed out for young people to learn from.

Do you know what child exploitation is? And, if you do, do you understand what it is?

Here are some of the words you may hear, and a simple guide to what these words actually mean:

  • EXPLOITATION – exploitation is a type of abuse. It’s where someone gets you to do something that benefits them. They might trick you into thinking they care about you, they might bully you into doing it, or they might give you things so you feel you can’t say no.
  • EXPLOITER – a person who gets you to do things for them by tricking you, bullying you, or giving you things so you feel you can’t say no.
  • ABUSE – really bad things done by one person to another, like hurting you, saying nasty things to upset you, or doing sexual things to you.
  • COERCE – to make you do something by bullying you or asking again and again so you don’t feel you can say no, even when you don’t want to do it.
  • CONSENT – when you know and understand what is happening and you are happy about it. It isn’t real consent if someone tries to make you do something or coerces you.
  • COUNTY LINES – when gangs use vulnerable people to move drugs from one place to another, or to look after and sell drugs.
  • GROOMING – when someone tricks you into thinking you are special or in a relationship with them. They trick you because they want you to do something for them.
  • MANIPULATE – to control a person or make them do something you want.
  • MISSING – when someone isn’t where they should be, and their family and friends don’t know where they are.
  • PERPETRATOR – someone who does something that is bad or against the law.
  • SAFEGUARD – to protect and keep safe.
  • VULNERABLE – needing special care or protection, like children and young people, older people, or people with a disability.
  • VULNERABILITY – something that makes you more likely to get hurt or harmed.