1. Only girls are sexually exploited! Although trends may show that girls maybe more likely to be victims of sexual exploitation and boys more likely to be criminally exploited this does not mean this is always the case. In 2016 a Barnardo’s exploitation services survey found that 30 males had been groomed online from 297 victims. Also despite boys generally falling foul of criminal exploitation girls have also been victims.
2. It’s impossible to get out once you’re involved! This is not true at all. Children and young people who have been victims of exploitation are able to find help and support from professional services such as the police, teachers, social workers, youth workers as well as the people who love and care for them most. There are many dedicated services whose purpose is to deal with stopping child exploitation and protecting victims from harm. See our “Ways to Help” section for further information and advice.
3. Abusers are older males! Exploiters can be older males but not always. In many situations young people are victims of exploitation from their own age groups or gender. As mentioned in our facts young people can be tricked into believing young people their own age are their friends or boyfriend / girlfriend when actually this is a ploy to gain trust before exploiting and abusing them.
4. I’ll get into trouble if I say anything or it’s my fault! Manipulating children into not saying anything is one of the ways exploiters keep control of their victims. Young people will be made to believe that if they come forward for help this will mean they will only end up in more serious trouble or face the threat of their abusers sending information about them to make their situation worst...
Services want children and young people to speak out in order to protect them from further abuse and to stop exploiters continuing to abuse and commit crime against children.
5. It’s normal; I’m just doing what the others are doing! Always ask yourself is it normal or okay what others are asking you to do? Creating the sense of things being ‘normal’ draws young people into being vulnerable to exploitation as it can create an illusion that what they are doing is allowed and ok to fit in and be part of the group.
This could be a group of males trying to get younger males to look after drugs or take part in crime or suggesting that doing something criminal would be fun or a ‘buzz’.
It could also be at a party where young people are being encouraged to do something sexual to fit in with other young people present.
Again it could be boyfriend or girlfriend asking the other to do something they do not want to do to prove they love them…