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Child exploitation

Different dangers, same signs

Close-up of a young woman, taken from waist-height, as she looks at her phone. Her face is not visible. Overlaid is text that says: "Spot the Signs Poster Hub".

Awareness of Child Exploitation (CE) has risen dramatically in recent years as the scale of the problem was unearthed in areas across the country. The issue has since been covered extensively on the news, in documentaries and TV dramas; but our teams find the early signs of exploitation are often still missed by the adults around a young victim.

For this reason, we have produced a series of posters that shine a light on this issue, and the ways to help a young person. The materials are most relevant for professionals who work with children, but are useful for anybody who wants to know more about Child Exploitation and Missing From Home.

Catch22 believe all children who are exploited should be treated as victims. Too often these young people are treated as criminals who have chosen to get involved in criminal activity, and so do not receive the safeguarding and support they deserve.

Our experience tells us that victims of child criminal exploitation (CCE) often display the same or similar characteristics and indicators as those who are victims of child sexual exploitation (CSE), and those who go missing from home. Victims of child sexual exploitation are often female, while victims of child criminal exploitation are often male but this is not always the case.

Catch22 believe all children who are exploited should be treated as victims.

Signs of CSE/CCE

  • Recurrent sexually transmitted infections
  • Skipping school
  • Staying out late or overnight
  • Unexplained gifts / new possessions
  • Drugs and alcohol misuse
  • Secretive behaviour
  • Youth offending behaviour
  • Inappropriate or sexualised behaviour
  • Friendship or relationships with older adults
  • Significant changes in mood or behaviour
  • Changes in appearance (clothes, hygiene etc.)
  • Becoming withdrawn or isolated
  • Poor mental health, self-harm etc.
  • Excessive time spent on social media talking to ‘friends’ they haven’t met