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Child exploitation

Young carers and child exploitation

Close-up of a report cover that reads "Young carers and child exploitation"

12,720 children in England were identified by social services as being at risk of criminal exploitation by gangs in 2020/21 and 24,800 child abuse offences were recorded in England and Wales in the same period.

But we also know that these figures give an incomplete picture of risk to children as a significant proportion of child exploitation is never recorded. The internet has made it easier for abusers to reach children and the pandemic has affected some children’s mental health, making them feel more isolated or depressed, and more vulnerable as a result.

Tia* was 14. She lived with her dad and younger brother in a loving, stable household. However, Tia’s dad had a range of health conditions that meant he was seriously incapacitated and relied on Tia to provide a lot of his care as well as take responsibility for basic household tasks. One day after the young carer’s support group, Tia disclosed to her support worker that she had been sexually abused by an older boy she had met through mutual friends. He had noticed her and given her the kind of attention that young carers with limited scope for social interactions seldom get. The support worker recognised immediately that she had been exploited and made a referral into the specialist child exploitation team.

Her CSE case worker helped Tia to understand that she had been groomed and exploited and supported Tia and her family to recover from the impact of the abuse.

– case study

In this publication, you can access a brief explanation of child exploitation, a checklist of signs to look out for, and some places you can find support if you are worried about a child or young person.

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