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Child Exploitation

How To Help Yourself and Others

1. Protect yourself online! Only talk to people online that you actually know. Watch out for warning signs of grooming on line. If something feels wrong then make an adult that you know and trust aware of your concerns. Never give out your personal details online or share any kind of images. Never agree to meet someone you have met online. See our list of online app’s that you should be aware of to protect yourself from online grooming.


2. Stay safe. Protect yourself offline! Don’t trust people at face value even if they come across as friendly. Sometimes we have to be wary of other people’s intentions to look after ourselves. Always ask yourself what are other people’s motivations to you. Are they saying or doing something because they are genuine or is it for another reason? Talk to someone you trust, especially an adult such as a teacher, if you’re worried about someone’s intentions towards you or your friends.


3. Get involved in something positive! If you’re involved in positive activities, hobbies or youth groups and clubs then this is a great way to have real trusting friends and be close to people who will look out for you. Also it’s a great way to learn from others and develop your own skills and understand more about yourself. These are all protective factors for children and young people as they grow into young adults.  


4. Don’t be tricked, forced or made to feel scared into doing something you don’t want to do! If something feels wrong then trust your instincts. If you’re worried about any sort of situation then speak to parents or carers, a youth worker, a teacher or a social worker about your concerns.

5. There are services and people that can help. If you’re worried and need to talk to someone about exploitation then there are people who can help. It’s important to understand that the person you trust with your worries may need to tell others in order to help protect you or someone else.

Who Else Can Help?

If you’re a young person and need help, information advice or support concerning ‘Child Exploitation’ or related issues then support and help is available from:

MASH Team (Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub Team on: 0151 443 2600 and speak to someone from Social Care. Social workers work for the government and their job is to help you if you need to be protected from harm.

Merseyside Police on: 101 (24 hour non-emergency number). In an emergency always ring 999. It is the police’s job to protect you from harm and stop crimes being committed against you or other children.

Childline. Childline is a free, private and confidential service where you can be you. Whatever your worry, whenever you need help, however you want to get in touch. We're here for you online, on the phone, anytime.

Call: 0800 1111 or visit

For services relating to young people and other advice contact:

Knowsley Youth Mutual on 0151 443 5323 or visit  

1. What is child exploitation?

Child Exploitation is when someone asks or uses you to do something you do not want to do or feel uncomfortable with. As far as child exploitation is concerned this tends to be something of a sexual nature or committing a criminal offence…


2. The 'Grooming' process!

Those who exploit children and young people use many different ways to develop their control of another person. Often exploiters will look for vulnerabilities in their victims such as age or isolation and using the internet is a common way of sexually grooming young people. There is no length of time this process takes in abusers gaining control over another person. At times exploiters will work hard to trick or use ways to gain the trust of their victims. However in other circumstances victims are controlled very quickly when threats of violence or intimidation may be used.

Exploitation process persuading methods include:

  • Offering free gifts including, money, clothes, mobile phones, cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, bicycles and food.

  • Offering affection or offering friendship or being their mate to gain trust.

  • Offering protection or safety, a place to stay or somewhere to sleep.

  • Paying off debts.

  • Providing lifts in cars.

  • Deceiving someone to send naked or indecent pictures of them-selves but telling their victims not to worry about this.

  • The exploiter/perpetrator claims that the relationship they have is genuine or real and/or loving. This may be just one way of gaining trust as well as deterring others who maybe suspicious.

3. How much of a problem is online grooming?

Last year (2016) Barnardo’s carried out a survey with 5 of their exploitation services across the UK. This survey revealed that in the six months previous 702 children had been supported because of exploitation with 297 (42%) of these children being groomed online.

Two thirds of these young people (186) who were groomed online met the person who had been grooming them and were then sexually exploited. The survey also showed that 146 young people had been sexually exploited by more than one person. Figures show the majority of these children were aged between 14 and 17 years with some as young as 10 years old.

4. There is no stereotypical victim of exploitation!

Exploitation can happen to anyone. It doesn’t matter what your background is. Exploiters will target anyone they see vulnerable regardless of their sexuality, age, or whether they are a boy or girl.  Younger children are equally at risk as older young people of being exploited sexually or criminally.

There are some factors that make you more vulnerable to exploitation especially if you’re mixing with people you don’t know or trust. If you have never been in trouble with the police some exploiters see this as an advantage as you may not stand out to the police if you were being asked to take part in crime. If you’re not in the presence of people who care for you, for example those absent or missing from home or online and away from parents.

5. It's About Control

The methods exploiters use to keep control of those they are abusing are very unpleasant. The fact they are unpleasant are the reason why some children and young people continue to be exploited even though they want to break free of their abusers.

Some of the ways exploiters keep control and continue abusing their victims include:

  • Using social media to control a person through threats of sharing sexual images of their victim or made up stories that will affect them or their families.

  • Telling their victims they will tell people including their friends and families what they have been doing if they don’t continue to do what they are being asked.

  • Telling their victims they will spread rumours about you.

  • Threatening their victims with violence if someone doesn’t do what is asked of them. This can often be directed at friends and family usually younger children such as brothers and sisters or older relatives such as grandparents.

  • Threatening their victims that they will tell others they are providing the police with information keeping them scared of retaliation or being labelled a ‘grass’.

  • Telling their victims they will finish with them as they may have been tricked into believing that the person is their boyfriend or girlfriend.  

  • Pretending to be friends but with the intention of using them for another purpose that is likely to expose them to risk of harm.

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