Exploitation and Grooming
Abduction in the context of exploitation and grooming
The National Working Group for Sexually Exploited Children and Young People defines child sexual exploitation as:
Someone taking advantage of you sexually, for their own benefit. Through threats, bribes, violence, humiliation, or by telling you that they love you, they will have the power to get you to do sexual things for their own, or other people’s benefit or enjoyment (including: touching or kissing private parts, sex, taking sexual photos)
Not all victims of exploitation will perceive themselves as having been abducted. Many ‘willingly’ go with, or to, the person who is exploiting them. However, in some cases the actions of the exploiter in encouraging or facilitating the child to go with them are sufficient to cause a criminal charge of child abduction.
Exploitation can take the form of inappropriate relationships (for example, when the perpetrator is significantly older than the child); grooming and coercion from ‘boyfriends’ or from peers or gangs; and organised networks of offenders in which victims can be transported – in some cases forcibly – long distances to be abused¹.
How many children are abducted in the context of exploitation?
PACT’s research suggests that over a fifth of police recorded child abduction and kidnapping offences involve exploitation or grooming. In 2011/12 police recorded 135 cases (involving 144 children) of child abduction or kidnapping that involved exploitation¹. 90 per cent of victims were female. Three-quarters were aged 14 or 15 years-old.
Many cases involve the victim running away to be with the offender. Some are reported missing as a result. In an attempt to disrupt ongoing exploitative relationships, police may issue a perpetrator with a Child Abduction Warning Notice.
Use of the internet
Some cases of child sexual exploitation start online. In many cases the offending remains online, such as deceiving children into producing indecent images of themselves, participating in sexual chat or engaging in sexual activity over a webcam². However, online activity can also lead to offline offending. 7 per cent of a representative sample of online child sexual exploitation reports received by the National Crime Agency CEOP Command in 2012, involved offline meetings between the victim and perpetrator.
¹ Newiss, G. and Traynor, M. (2013) Taken: A study of child abduction in the UK. London: Parents and Abducted Children Together and Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.
² Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (2013) Threat Assessment of Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse. London: Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.