Why are children and young people vulnerable?
The common issues and reasons can be due to a number of factors including a young person’s low self-esteem and a poor self-image.
Young people who run away from home are recognised as being more at risk of being targeted as a victim of sexual exploitation.
Vulnerabilities are identified and targeted by the abuser, whether the young person is living with their family, looked after, away from home or they have run away.
Sexual exploitation can be linked to other issues in a child or young person’s life, and authorities may only have limited opportunities to gain their trust so it is very important that all staff in Sefton Council are able to recognise the warning signs that a child may be a victim of, or at risk of sexual exploitation.
The following are typical vulnerabilities in children prior to abuse:
- Living in a chaotic or dysfunctional household (including parental substance use, domestic violence, parental mental health issues, parental criminality)
- History of abuse (including familial child sexual abuse, risk of forced marriage, risk of 'honour'-based violence, physical and emotional abuse and neglect)
- Recent bereavement or loss
- Gang association either through relatives, peers or intimate relationships (in cases of gang-associated CSE only)
- Attending school with young people who are sexually exploited
Unsure about their sexual orientation or unable to disclose sexual orientation to their families
Friends with young people who are sexually exploited
Lacking friends from the same age group
Living in a gang neighbourhood
Living in residential care
Living in hostel, bed and breakfast accommodation or a foyer
Low self-esteem or self-confidence