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Child Safegarding cont ...
6.1 Domestic Violence and Abuse
• The UK’s cross-government definition of domestic abuse is:
Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This abuse can encompass but is not limited to:
• Controlling behaviour is: A range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour
• Coercive behaviour is: An act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim. This definition, which is not a legal definition, includes so called ‘honour’ based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group
• Safeguarding is a term which is broader than ‘child protection’ and relates to the action taken to promote the welfare of children and protect them from harm. Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility. Statutory guidance says that safeguarding means:
◦ Protecting children from maltreatment
◦ Preventing impairment of children’s health or development
◦ Ensuring that children are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care
◦ Taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes
6.3 Child or Young Person
• Under the Children Acts 1989 and 2004 respectively, a child (or young person) is anyone who has not yet reached their 18th birthday. The fact that a child has reached 16 years of age, is living independently or is in further education, is a member of the armed forces, is in hospital, in prison or in a Young Offenders Institution does not change his or her status or entitlement to services or protection under the Children Act 1989
• Employment context: A person working under the control or direction of another, under a contract of employment in return for a wage or salary
• The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) defines a ‘volunteer’ as: “A person who is engaged in any activity which involves spending time, unpaid (except for travelling and other approved out of pocket expenses), doing something which aims to benefit someone (individuals or groups) other than, or in addition to close relatives
6.6 Child Sexual Exploitation
• Child sexual exploitation is a form of child sexual abuse. It occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into sexual activity (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or (b) for the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator. The victim may have been sexually exploited even if the sexual activity appears consensual. Child sexual exploitation does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur through the use of technology
6.7 Safeguarding Partners
• Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs) are being replaced by “Safeguarding Partners.” Under the new legislation, three safeguarding partners (Local Authorities, Chief Officers of Police, and Clinical Commissioning Groups) must make arrangements to work together with relevant agencies (as they consider appropriate) to safeguard and protect the welfare of children in the area
• The geographical footprint for the new arrangements is based on local authority areas. Every Local Authority, Clinical Commissioning Group and Police Force must be covered by a local safeguarding arrangement
6.8 Contextual Safeguarding
• Contextual Safeguarding is an approach to understanding, and responding to, young people’s experiences of significant harm beyond their families. It recognises that the different relationships that young people form in their neighbourhoods, schools and online can feature violence and abuse. Parents and carers have little influence over these contexts, and young people’s experiences of extra-familial abuse can undermine parent-child relationships
• The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (EU) 2016/679 is a regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy for all individuals within the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA). The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a legal framework that sets guidelines for the collection and processing of personal information of individuals within the European Union (EU)
• The GDPR forms part of the data protection regime in the UK, together with the new Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA 2018). The main provisions of this applied like the GDPR, from 25 May 2018
6.10 Special Category Personal Data
• Under GDPR, special categories of personal data means data revealing health, racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, trade union membership, etc.
6.11 Raising concerns
• If at any point a member of staff have concerns about the safety and or wellbeing of a young person they should raise these with the Registered Manager to ensure that a risk assessment can be discussed and any mitigation pulled together to ensure people are kept safe.
• Staff members should also feel comfortable and confident to raise any concerns with the local LADO services. Bedford LADO services can be contacted on 01234 267 222 or Luton LADO on 01582 547 653
Key Facts - Professionals
Professionals providing this service should be aware of the following:
• The welfare of the child is paramount, with safeguarding being everyone's business
• Whether you deliver children's services or not you must ensure that your staff have received child protection training and understand local reporting procedures
• Redwood Home Care Ltd should promote a culture where staff can freely raise concerns
Key Facts - People Affected by The Service
People affected by this service should be aware of the following:
• You have a right to equal protection from all types of harm or abuse
• Redwood Home Care Ltd will seek your consent to share information about you. However, if we think you are at risk we will respond in your best interests. We will only share information on a need-to-know basis
As well as the information in the 'Underpinning Knowledge' section of the review sheet we recommend that you add to your understanding in this policy area by considering the following materials:
NSPCC Briefing on key changes: Working together to safeguard children 2018:
Honour Based Violence: https://safe.met.police.uk/crimes_of_honour/get_the_facts.html
Child maltreatment: when to suspect maltreatment in under 18s.Clinical guideline [cg89] NICE 2009:
NSPCC: How safe are our children? The most comprehensive overview of child protection in the UK 2017:
Child sexual exploitation Definition and a guide for practitioners, local leaders and decision makers working to protect children from child sexual exploitation: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/591903/CSE_Guidance_Core_Document
Categories and Indicators of Child Abuse and Neglect
The following definitions will assist staff to recognise whether a child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm. Where abuse is suspected, a referral should always be made to the local District Council Child Protection Team using local reporting procedures.
Physical Abuse: Physical abuse may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating, or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fabricates the symptoms or, deliberately induces illness in a child.
Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent effects on the child's emotional development and may involve: Conveying to children that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person; Imposing age or developmentally inappropriate expectations on children. These may include interactions that are beyond the child's developmental capability, as well as overprotection and limitation of exploration and learning, or preventing the child participating in normal social interaction; Seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another e.g. where there is domestic violence and abuse; Serious bullying, causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger; Exploiting and corrupting children. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment of a child, though it may occur alone.
Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving a high level of violence, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including assault by penetration (e.g. rape or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing and touching outside of clothing. Sexual abuse includes non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at pornography, including online and with mobile phones, or in the production of pornographic materials, watching sexual activities or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways or grooming a child in preparation for abuse (including via the internet). Sexual abuse is not solely perpetrated by adult males. Women can also commit acts of sexual abuse, as can other children.
In addition, sexual abuse includes abuse of children through sexual exploitation. Penetrative sex, where one of the partners is under the age of 16, is illegal although prosecution of similar-age, consenting partners is not usual. However, where a child is under the age of 13 it is classified as rape under Section 5 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child's basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child's health or development.
Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance misuse, maternal mental ill health or learning difficulties or a cluster of such issues. Where there is domestic abuse and violence towards a carer, the needs of the child may be neglected. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent failing to:
• Provide adequate food, clothing and shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment)
• Protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger
• Ensure adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate care-givers)
• Ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment. It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to a child's basic emotional, social and educational needs
Included in the four categories of child abuse and neglect above, are a number of factors relating to the behaviour of the parents and carers which have significant impact on children, such as domestic violence. Research analysing Serious Case Reviews has demonstrated a significant prevalence of domestic abuse in the history of families with children who are the subject of Child Protection Plans. Children can be affected by seeing, hearing and living with domestic violence and abuse as well as being caught up in any incidents directly, whether to protect someone or as a target. It should also be noted that the age group of 16 and 17 year olds has been found in recent studies to be increasingly affected by domestic violence in their peer relationships.
The cross-government definition of domestic violence and abuse is:
Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to:
A range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour. Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.
Signs of Abuse:
Recognising child abuse is not easy. It is not your responsibility to decide whether child abuse has taken place or if a child is at risk of harm from someone. You do, however, have both a responsibility and duty to act in order that the appropriate agencies can investigate and take any necessary action to protect a child.
The following information should help you to be more alert to the signs of possible abuse:
Most children will collect cuts and bruises as part of the rough and tumble of daily life. Injuries should always be interpreted considering the child’s medical and social history, developmental stage and the explanation given. Most accidental bruises are seen over bony parts of the body e.g. elbows, knees, skins, and are often on the front of the body. Some children, however, will have bruising that is more than likely inflicted rather than accidental.
Important indicators of physical abuse are bruises or injuries that are either unexplained or inconsistent with the explanation given, or visible on the ‘soft’ parts of the body where accidental injuries are unlikely e.g. cheeks, abdomen, back and buttocks. A delay in seeking medical treatment when it is obviously necessary is also a cause for concern, although this can be more complicated with burns, as these are often delayed in presentation due to blistering taking place.
The physical signs of abuse may include:
• Unexplained bruising, marks or injuries on any part of the body
• Multiple bruises – in clusters, often on the upper arm, outside of the thigh
• Unexplained bruising in babies or non-mobile children
• Cigarette burns
• Human bite marks
• Scalds, with upward splash marks
• Multiple burns with a clearly demarcated edge
Changes in behaviour which can also indicate physical abuse:
• Fear of parents being approached for an explanation
• Aggressive behaviour or severe temper outbursts
• Flinching when approached or touched
• Reluctance to get changed, for example in hot weather
• Withdrawn behaviour
• Running away from home
• Fear of medical help or examination
Emotional abuse can be difficult to measure, as there are often no outward physical signs. There may be a developmental delay due to a failure to thrive or grow, although this will usually only be evident if the child puts on weight in other circumstances, for example when hospitalised or away from their parents’ care. Even so, children who appear well cared for may nevertheless be emotionally abused by being taunted, put down or belittled. They may receive little or no love, affection or attention from their parents or carers. Emotional abuse can also take the form of children not being allowed to mix or play with other children. Changes in behaviour which can indicate emotional abuse include:
• Neurotic behaviour e.g. sulking, hair twisting, rocking
• Sudden speech disorders
• Fear of making mistakes
• Being unable to play
• Fear of parent being approached regarding their behaviour
• Developmental delay in terms of emotional progress
• Extremes of passivity or aggression
Adults or other children who use children to meet their own sexual needs, abuse both girls and boys of all ages, including infants and toddlers. Usually, in cases of sexual abuse, it is the child’s behaviour that may cause you to become concerned, although physical signs can also be present. In all cases, children who tell about sexual abuse do so because they want it to stop. It is important, therefore, that they are listened to and taken seriously.
The physical signs of sexual abuse may include:
• Pain or itching in the genital area
• Bruising or bleeding near the genital area
• Sexually transmitted disease
• Vaginal discharge or infection
• Stomach pains
• Discomfort when walking or sitting down
Changes in behaviour which can also indicate sexual abuse include:
• Sudden or unexplained changes in behaviour e.g. becoming aggressive or withdrawn
• Fear of being left with a specific person or group of people
• Having nightmares
• Running away from home
• Sexual knowledge which is beyond their age, or developmental level
• Sexual drawings or language
• Bedwetting/daytime soiling
• Sudden loss of appetite or compulsive eating
• Self-harm or mutilation, sometimes leading to suicide attempts
• Saying they have secrets they cannot tell anyone about
• Substance or drug misuse
• Suddenly having unexplained sources of money or gifts
• Not allowed to have friends (particularly in adolescence)
• Acting in a sexually explicit way towards adults or other children/peers
Neglect can be a difficult form of abuse to recognise, yet has some of the most lasting and damaging effects on children. The physical signs of neglect may include:
• Constant hunger, sometimes stealing food from other children
• Poor personal hygiene – constantly dirty or ‘smelly’
• Loss of weight, or being constantly underweight
• Inappropriate clothing for the conditions
• Poor parental engagement for school/health needs
Changes in behaviour which can also indicate neglect may include:
• Complaining of being tired all the time
• Not requesting medical assistance and/or failing to attend appointments
• Having few friends
• Mentioning being left alone or unsupervised
NB: These definitions and indicators are not meant to be definitive, but only serve as a guide to assist you. It is important too, to remember that many children may exhibit some of these indicators at some time, and that the presence of one or more should not be taken as proof that abuse is occurring. There may well be other reasons for changes in behaviour such as a death, or the birth of a new baby in the family or relationship problems between parents/carers. In assessing whether indicators are related to abuse or not, the authorities will always want to understand them in relation to the child’s development and context.
Abuse and Neglect - General Indicators:
The risk of maltreatment is recognised as being increased when there is:
• Parental or carer drug or alcohol abuse
• Parental or carer mental ill health
• Intra-familial violence or history of violent offending
• Previous child maltreatment in members of the family
• Known maltreatment of animals by the parent or carer
• Vulnerable and unsupported parents or carers
• Pre-existing disability in the child
(NICE CG89: When to suspect Child Maltreatment, July 2009)
Babies Under 1 Year
All babies need to be safe, nurtured and able to thrive. The early care they receive provides the essential foundations for all future physical, social and emotional development. Whilst most parents do provide the love and care their babies need, sadly too many babies suffer abuse and neglect. The emotional abuse, neglect or physical harm of babies is particularly shocking both because babies are totally dependent on others and because of the relative prevalence of such maltreatment.
• 45 percent of serious case reviews in England relate to babies under the age of 1 year
In England and Wales, babies are eight times more likely to be killed than older children. An original analysis conducted for this report estimates, for the first time, the numbers of babies living in vulnerable and complex family situations:
• 19,500 babies under 1 year old are living with a parent who has used Class A drugs in the last year
• 39,000 babies under 1 year old live in households affected by domestic violence in the last year
• 93,500 babies under 1 year old live with a parent who is a problem drinker
• 144,000 babies under 1 year old live with a parent who has a common mental health problem (All babies count campaign, NSPCC, executive summary. Nov 2011).
Appendix 2: What is Child Sexual Exploitation?
Sexual exploitation of children and young people has been identified throughout the UK, in both rural and urban areas, and in all parts of the world. It affects boys and young men as well as girls and young women from any background and of any ethnicity. It is a type of Sexual Abuse and can have a serious impact on every aspect of the lives of children involved.
Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is the organised and deliberate exploitation of a child purely for the sexual gratification of adults.
The sexual exploitation of children is described in the Government's guidance as "involving exploitative situations, contexts and relationships where young people (or a third person or persons) receive 'something' (e.g. food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, affection, gifts, money) because of their performing, and/or another or others performing on them, sexual activities. It can occur using technology without the child's immediate recognition; e.g. being persuaded to post sexual images on the internet/mobile phones without immediate payment or gain. In all cases, those exploiting the child have power over them by their age, gender, intellect, physical strength and/or economic or other resources. Violence, coercion and intimidation are common, involvement in exploitative relationships being characterised in the main by the child's limited availability of choice resulting from their social/economic and/or emotional vulnerability."
Sexual exploitation results in children and young people suffering harm, and causes significant damage to their physical and mental health. It can also have profound and damaging consequences for the child's family. Parents and carers are often traumatised and under severe stress. Siblings can feel alienated and their self-esteem affected. Family members can themselves suffer serious threats of abuse, intimidation and assault at the hands of perpetrators.
There are strong links between children involved in sexual exploitation and other behaviours such as running away from home or care, bullying, self-harm, teenage pregnancy, truancy and substance misuse. In addition, some children are particularly vulnerable, for example, children with special needs, those in residential or foster care, those leaving care, migrant children, unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, forced marriage and those involved in gangs.
Many sexually exploited children are hidden from public view. They are unlikely to be loitering or soliciting on the streets. Research and practice has helped to move the understanding away from a narrow view of seeing sexual exploitation as a young person standing on a street corner selling sex.
There is also often a presumption that children are sexually exploited by people they do not know. However, evidence shows that this is often not the case and children are often sexually exploited by people with whom they feel they have a relationship, e.g. a boyfriend/girlfriend.
Due to the nature of the grooming methods used by their abusers, it is very common for children and young people who are sexually exploited, not to recognise that they are being abused. Staff should be aware that, particularly young people aged 17 and 18, may believe themselves to be acting voluntarily and will need support to work with them so they can recognise that they are being sexually exploited.
Types of CSE
There are three main types of CSE:
• Inappropriate relationships – this usually involves one perpetrator who has inappropriate power or control over a young person. There is often a significant age gap and the victim may believe they are in a loving relationship
• ‘Boyfriend’ model – the perpetrator befriends and grooms the young person into a ‘relationship’ and then convinces or forces them to have sex with friends or associates. This is sometimes associated with gang activity
• Organised sexual exploitation – young people are passed through networks where they are forced into sexual activity with multiple men. This often occurs at ‘sex parties’ and the young people may be used to recruit others into the network
Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) can also take place over the internet.
Know the Signs
Even something that seems like normal teenage behaviour could be a sign that a child is being sexually exploited. Some of the visible signs include:
• Change in physical appearance - new clothes, more/less makeup, poor self-image, weight gain/loss
• Having increased health/sexual health-related problems
• Having marks or scars on their body which they try to conceal by refusing to undress or uncover parts of their body
• Expressions of despair (self-harm, overdose, eating disorder, challenging behaviour, aggression, appearing drunk or under the influence of drugs/alcohol, suicidal tendencies, looking tired or ill, sleeping during the day)
• Sexually transmitted infections/pregnancy
• Multiple miscarriages or terminations
• Indicators of CSE in conjunction with chronic alcohol and drug use
• Indicators of CSE alongside serious self-harming behaviour
• Being defensive about where they have been and what they have been doing
• Volatile/criminal behaviour
• Use of the internet that causes concern including possible use of webcams
• Becoming involved in criminality/repeat offending
• Exclusion and/or unexplained absences from school or not engaged in education or training. Non-school attendance or excluded due to behaviour
• Sexualised risk taking including on Internet and mobile phone
• Sexting’ (the act of sending sexually explicit messages or photographs, primarily between mobile phones)
• Increased use of online gaming including Xbox
• Association with gangs
• Removed from known ‘red light’ district by professionals due to suspected CSE
• Child under 16 meeting different adults and exchanging or selling sexual activity
• Being hostile or physically aggressive in their relationship with parents/carers or other family members
• Getting into cars with unknown adults or associating with known CSE adults
• Child under 13 engaging in penetrative sex with another over 15 years
• Associating/developing a sexual relationship with older men or women
• Reports of being involved in CSE through being seen in hotspots (i.e. in certain flats, recruiting grounds, cars or houses and maybe in the company of known CSE adults)
• Becoming disruptive at home or school or using offensive language
• Being secretive or withdrawn
• Older ‘boyfriend/girlfriend’ or relationship with a controlling adult
• Physical or emotional abuse by that ‘boyfriend/girlfriend’ or controlling adult
• Associating with other sexually exploited children
• Regularly coming home late or going missing overnight or longer
• Returning home after long intervals but appearing well cared for
• Being a victim of honour-based violence
• Unsuitable or inappropriate accommodation (including street homelessness, staying with adults known to be involved in CSE and living in a place where needs are not met)
• Being involved in witchcraft
• Isolated from peers and social networks; not mixing with their usual friends
• Lack of positive relationship with a protective, nurturing adult
• Living independently and failing to respond to attempts by workers to keep in touch.
• Unusual association with taxi drivers/firms
• Breakdown of residential placements due to behaviour
• Having money, mobile phones, credit for mobile phones, sim cards, clothes, jewellery or other items without a plausible explanation and not given by parents/carers
• Having multiple mobile phones, sim cards or use of a mobile phone that causes concern; multiple callers, more texts than usual
• Overtly sexualised dress
• Disclosure of physical/ sexual assault and then refusing to make or withdrawing a complaint
• Having possession of hotel keys/key cards or keys to unknown premises
• Receiving rewards of money or goods for recruiting peers into CSE or just introducing peers to known adults
• Knowledge of towns and cities they have no previous connection with
• Being taken to clubs and hotels by adults and engaging in sexual activity
• Disappearing from the ‘system’ with no contact or support
• Being taken abroad by family members (forced marriage)
• Abduction and forced imprisonment
• Being bought/sold for sexual acts
Possible Indicators Specific to Boys and Young Men are:
• Health - physical symptoms (e.g. bruising or sexually transmitted infections); drug or alcohol misuse; self-harm or eating disorders
• Education - truancy, deterioration of school work or part-time timetable
• Emotional and behavioural development - secretive e.g. about internet use; anti-social behaviour; sexualised language; sexually offending behaviour
• Family and social relationships - associating with other children and young people at risk of sexual exploitation; missing from home or staying out late; getting into cars of unknown people; contact with adults outside normal social group
• Identity - low self-esteem, poor self-image or lack of confidence
• Social presentation - wearing an unusual amount of clothing
• Income - social activities with no explanation of how funded; possession of abnormal amounts of money, gifts, new mobile phones, credit on mobile phone, number of SIM cards
• Social integration - frequenting known high-risk areas or going to addresses of concern; seen at public toilets known for cottaging; seen at adult venues
What are the Vulnerabilities?
The Warning Signs and Vulnerabilities are indicated below:
Once engaged, offenders are likely to employ a series of sequential steps to erode the free will of the victim and trap them into a lifestyle which is not a choice but to which they can see no alternative as it has become all they know. These incremental steps may take the form of:
• Chilling - Generally associating with the child, supplying them with drink or drugs, listening to them, making them feel good and appearing to be the only one who understands them. Commonly this phase may extend for a protracted period e.g. 12 months
• Presents - The victim will be provided with gifts e.g. jewellery, electronic items or money
• Physical - The offender will begin to ask for them to enter a sexual relationship
• Pestering - Whether they have had a sexual relationship to date the pressure to do so or to expand it will be increased
• Threats - To the victim and/or other people e.g. their family
• Orders - The victim is essentially challenged to refuse what is being demanded of them
• Force - Whether they consent the victim is physically forced to engage in sexual acts
The Significance of Attachment
Victims often do not see themselves as such and may defend their abuser. Some will avoid contact with the Police and can be the hardest victims to gain the confidence of and protect. If a child or a young person presents with an indicator of CSE, action is required; the earlier the intervention, the better the chances for success.
Attachment between the victim and offender is the key to CSE occurring and continuing, and breaking that attachment is the most effective way to tackle the issue, safeguard the victim and deal with the offender. Attachment arises from the grooming/indoctrination process as the offender creates the cognitive distortions of the victim. They erode pre-existing relationships and bonds and replace them with their own, making them the single most important person in the victim’s life. In doing so, they create a position whereby the victim is more likely to give in to their demands and less likely to report them due to the natural processes of the brain. Attachment also explains why the victim will repeatedly return to the offender even after making complaints about them; refuse to pursue complaints that have been made and give false details about persons involved or acts that have occurred.
Important Information About CSE
Sexual exploitation can take many forms, from the seemingly 'consensual' relationship where sex is exchanged for attention, 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 power over the victim, increasing the dependence of the victim as the exploitative relationship develops.
Technology can play a part in sexual abuse, for example, through its use to record abuse and share it with other like- minded individuals or as a medium to access children and young people to groom them. A common factor in all cases is the lack of free economic or moral choice.
Sexual exploitation has strong links with other forms of 'crime', for example, domestic violence and abuse, online and offline grooming, the distribution of abusive images of children and child trafficking. Many adults involved in prostitution describe difficult childhood experiences that include domestic violence and abuse, neglect, emotional abuse, disrupted schooling and low educational attainment.
The perpetrators of sexual exploitation are often well organised and use sophisticated tactics. They are known to target areas where children and young people gather without much adult supervision, e.g. parks or shopping centres or sites on the Internet.
As in all cases, concerns that a child may be at risk of sexual exploitation should be discussed with a manager and/or designated professional for safeguarding, and a decision made as to whether there should be a referral to Children's Social Care.
The wishes and feelings of the child or young person should be obtained when deciding how to proceed, but Staff should be aware that perpetrators may have groomed the child's responses and that the child may be denying what is happening.
Where a member of staff is fearful of losing the engagement of a child or young person by reporting their concern to Children's Social Care, the manager should discuss this with Children's Social Care to agree a way forward.
Any decision not to share information or refer a child should be recorded with a full explanation of the rationale behind that decision and the prevailing circumstances at that time. This will assist in the future if there is a review of the case and the decision-making processes.
A child or young person who is suspected of suffering or being at risk of suffering sexual exploitation will be a child who may be a Child in Need under the Children Act 1989 and should be referred to Children's Social Care using the relevant local child protection referral procedures.
The Local Safeguarding Partnership will consult and share information concerning incidents or suspicions of sexual exploitation within 24 hours. A decision should be made whether a criminal offence has been committed against a child or young person.
The child's individual needs and circumstances must be carefully assessed, including issues of ethnicity, gender, culture, disability, religion and sexual orientation.