Sexual exploitation can take many forms from the seemingly ‘consensual’ relationship where sex is exchanged for attention/affection, accommodation or gifts, to serious organised crime and child trafficking. What marks out exploitation is an imbalance of power within the relationship. The perpetrator always holds some kind of power over the victim, increasing the dependence of the victim as the exploitative relationship develops.
Sexual exploitation results in children and young people suffering harm, which can cause a significant damage to their physical and mental health. Whilst some children can be supported to make a recovery, others may suffer serious life-long impairments which may, on occasion, lead to their death.
Any child or young person can be a victim of sexual exploitation, but children are believed to be at greater risk of being sexually exploited if they:
- are homeless
- have feelings of low self-esteem
- have had a recent bereavement or loss
- are in care
- are a young carer
However, there are many more ways that a child may be vulnerable to sexual exploitation and the signs that a child is being exploited are not easy to spot.
Signs of Grooming and Sexual Exploitation
Signs of child sexual exploitation include the child or young person:
- going missing for periods of time or regularly returning home late
- skipping school or being disruptive in class
- appearing with unexplained gifts or possessions that can’t be accounted for
- experiencing health problems that may indicate a sexually transmitted disease
- having mood swings and changes in temperament
- using drugs and/or alcohol
- displaying inappropriate sexualised behaviour, such as over-familiarity with strangers, dressing in a sexualised manner or sending sexualised images by mobile phone (“sexting”)
- they may also show signs of unexplained physical harm, such as bruising and cigarette burns
If you have a concern about a student at Bristol Metropolitan Academy please contact Mr Kris Bridgeman (Designated Safeguarding Lead) or Mrs Sarah Maostone (Child Protection Lead) on 0117 3772071.