What is child exploitation?
Child exploitation is a type of child abuse. When a child or young person is exploited, they are groomed by criminals - being given things like money, presents, drugs or alcohol, affection, or perceived status. These things are given as a manipulation tactic to convince them to do something for their abuser, or their associates.
This can include carrying out criminal activity like dealing or couriering drugs, which is known as child criminal exploitation, or being forced to perform sexual acts, which is known as child sexual exploitation.
Sometimes, children are forced to carry out criminal activity in places outside of South Yorkshire - this is known as county lines. This is when gangs use children to transport weapons, money, or drugs across counties to other towns or perhaps more rural areas.
Many children who are exploited do not realise they are being abused. Their abuser will spot any vulnerabilities the child has and learn to understand their wants and needs in order to manipulate them. Alternatively, they will apply fear, intimidation, or threats of violence in order to force the child to do their bidding.