Exploring youth: The Hidden Issues

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Exploring youth: The Hidden Issues

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Exploring youth: The Hidden Issues

A Critical Evaluation of Sexual Exploitation and the Problems It Poses to Young Children

Paper Type: Report

Academic Subject: Child Development

Word Count: 2800

Submitted by: Student



The objective of this assignment is to provide a critical examination of the issues that have been faced by children and youth in the progressively complex world. Moreover, the issue, which has been highlighted in this assignment, is the problem of sexual exploitation of young people and children in the UK. Sexual exploitation has been identified throughout the UK in young people and children, in both urban and rural areas.

The issues which are related to sexual exploitation of children and young people have been the focus of debate, discussion and intervention in the UK from past few years. It is also considered as a National Threat, and further will be given due importance and priority by the police as an organised and serious crime (Department for Education, 2012). This article also contains research the background of the sexual exploitation faced by the people living in the UK along with the policy drivers. It was made evident in the assignment that sexual exploitation is increasing in the UK. Also, the common discourse was also discussed in this posting along with the current issues faced by the people in the UK. A brief future outlook is also provided in the assignment to mitigate the issues about sexual exploitation in the UK. 


The sexual exploitation of young people and children in the UK tends to be viewed as sexual abuse that includes online grooming, exploitation by gangs and trafficking. It can be stated that prostitution is also a part of sexual exploitation, which can hardly be separated from it (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and the Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes, 2010). As reported in 2015, around 3266 people were remarked as the potential victims of sexual exploitation and human trafficking, which portrays a 40% increase in comparison to previous year. Moreover, from the 3266 potential victims identified as in the year 2015, 982 were found to be children (Gov.UK, 2017). Also, there was no typical form of slavery was found as victims were children of all ages, women, men, belonging to different nationalities, ethnicities and cross-cultural population.

It is also prevalent in the UK that mostly minorities, socially excluded groups and vulnerable people are affected by the sexual exploitation. It is also reported that nearly 53% of the victims are women and 46% of the victims are men in the UK where transgender have been excluded from the statistics (Rees et al., 2011). In this regard, the child and young victims should be treated with some statutory protocols and protection procedures to decrease the rate of sexual exploitation. Furthermore, potential victims for sexual exploitation have been reported from 103 different countries as in 2015 where the UK is ranked in top five countries for sexual exploitation of children and young people. Therefore, UK has observed an increase of 40% in the potential victims of sexual exploitation and human trafficking (Gov.UK, 2017). The graph below represents human trafficking for the sexual exploitation in the UK from 2004-2016.

Human trafficking for the sexual exploitation in the UK

Figure 1: Human trafficking for the sexual exploitation in the UK

Source: Statista (2017)

The findings from Albanese (2013) suggested that around 567,000 women and men aged between 14 and 60 were suffered from sexual exploitation either through rape or pornography, which is also described as utterly staggering by the government officials in the UK. The crime department forces in the UK had been dealing with these issues on the routine basis because of the increasing child abuse, prostitution and sexual exploitation in recent years. The graph below mentions female victims in the UK who were victims of serious sexual assaults in 2014-2015.

Female victims in the UK

Figure 2: Female victims in the UK

Source: Statista (2017)

In the UK, The Department for Education (DFE) is accountable for coordinating protection of children and young people who are also led by production of statutory guidance, a national plan of action and direction for the professionals. Moreover, the Home Office (HO) is also responsible for sexual exploitation in the UK since 2013 as they are working with the Department of Education (Department for Education, 2012). However, Prime Minister has presented the most recent amendments to the statutory guidance, which emphasise the need to tackle sexual exploitation in the UK. Moreover, there is coordination at Government level between the Department of Education, the Home Office, Attorney General, Local Government, Department of Communities, Justice and Health.  There are also two acts, which govern around sexual offences in the UK these are the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and also the Serious Crime Act 2015.

Current Policy Legislation

The current policy legislation for sexual exploitation of children is entertained under the provisions of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. Furthermore, the children act 1989 is also imposed which poses a broad range of responsibilities on behalf of local authorities for the protection and care of young people within or under the age limit of 18 (Mitchell, 2011, p. 43). The act safeguards and promotes the wellbeing of children, which also helps in maintaining the health of the young people and children. Apart from this, the children act 2004 is also imposed in the UK, which is implemented, by local authorities and local bodies to ascertain the need to protect and promote the wellbeing of children. Also, the Sexual Offences Act 2003 is also introduced in the UK, which incorporates a broad range of child protection from sexual exploitation (Melrose, 2010).

This also covers the protection of children under the age of 13 and sex offences committed by children or young persons. Other legislations include Education Act 2002, Homelessness Act 2002 and the Children Leaving Care Act 2000. The UK Government published guidance in 2009 on the safeguarding children and young people from sexual exploitation (Department for Children, Schools and Families, 2009 in Pearce, 2013). This guidance defines Child sexual exploitation as being some that can be so unrecognisable to children, such as through the use of technology, social media websites or sending a picture which is explicit to an individual allowing them the control. (Pearce, 2013 p.4).

Main Thrust in Policy

The main thrust of policy and guidance is about new provisions in the sexual exploitation and sex crimes happening in the UK. Moreover, it covers the exploitation arisen by the offences of rape, penetration assaults, sexual assaults that cause a person to indulge in sexual activities without the consent of someone else (Data Forum, n.d.). According to legislative framework followed in the UK, the consent and sexual assaults are defined as conclusive presumptions and evidential assumptions about the consent. It further covers offences regarding child sex and crimes related to the exploitation of children and young people. Also, the familial child sex crimes also involve the relatives, which are designed to protect the person from mental disorders. The laws related to sexual exploitation provides extra-territorial jurisdiction for the acts committed in the UK against a child under 16.

New Policies for Sexual Exploitation in the UK

The Prime Minister of the UK has recently announced new policies and measures to be able to handle the sexual exploitation of children and young people at Downing Street summit (Child Exploitation Online Protection Centre, 2011). The systems were proposed as the new criminal sanctions are failing to protect individuals from sexual exploitation, the new measures has been introduced by David Cameron, Prime Minister of the UK (Beckett, 2011). It was stated that the government of the UK would consult on the grounds of extending criminal offence of patients for social care of children, education and elect members who will be directly responsible for the sexual exploitation of the people.

The measures taken by David Cameron is focused towards having long term plans in place or uncovering sexual exploitation and further bring more offenders to face strict punishments and bear severe consequences. Furthermore, sexual exploitation has remained hidden and was also ignored by the local authority, which allows implementing whistleblowing policies and helpline for the public sector organisation to report bad practices (Barter, McCarry and Berridge, 2009). Apart from this, the culture of letting down the victims and disbelieving them will be eradicated, and the culture of renunciation and inspection will be given to professional troubleshooting experts to mitigate sexual abuses and provide health and support to people at every level.

Prevalent Discourse

The topic of sexual exploitation is highly debatable, as it has become a fad within young people and children in the UK. There has been an increasing extension in the discourse since the end of the twenty-first century, which has described the sexual exploitation through ambiguous and vague terminologies (Cedeño, 2012). It is suggested that the discourse expansion leads several concepts, behaviours and situations that can be interpreted as sexual exploitation of the child and young people. Moreover, it can be argued here that the discourse can be predicted on two discourses. The first discourse which can be argued upon is the ‘childhood’ and second is the discourse of ‘female youth’ as it is the pretensions to the neutrality of gender in which the imagined child of sexual exploitation discourse is perpetually female, and the young men are widely considered to be invisible in this scenario (Dank, 2011). This discussion arises as the children are considered as pure and innocent which are unable to exercise choices, while the female childhood discourse constructs sexuality of female within double standards that sees women as the sex objects and a desire for the male gender (Grace, 2012, p. 410). Therefore, the understanding of female sexuality and their attractiveness towards male gender produce the discourse regarding sexual exploitation.

It remained debatable as many authors and practitioners came up with different concepts and theories in the essence of sexual exploitation of children and young people. However, this continued to be a long existing problem of the society, which will also remain prominent in the mind of general public (Barter et al., 2009). From the past decade, there were few reports generated which represent that sexual exploitation of the child is a new and trouble-creating problem which has limited research and can be learned from different perspectives. The literature conducted in this respect suggests that there are limited awareness and understanding of the issues about sexual exploitation, which should be responded to those working in professional roles with young people and children (Jago et al., 2011).

Sexual exploitation of children is not a new issue which has arisen within society, it exchanges a lengthy history of around 100 years, which increases the concerns of the general public and government officials in the UK. It can be argued that child sexual exploitation is based on three different aspects of difficulties, which are personal, professional and social. The majority of the articles and journals have reported that mostly female gender was more sexually exploited by the male sex, which describes the percentage of exploited youth. According to the study of Reid et al., (2011, p. 146), the discourse which is operated sexually is mostly female. However, male and female are equally treated in the statistics of sexually exploited people. In a study of Beckett (2013), it was stated that female and male students were traded as sex objects for money. On the other hand, gay, bisexual and lesbians were not sexually exploited and harmed in the risk of sexual exploitation. It can be asserted from the discussion that there are several sexual exploiters who use to exploit children and young adults who include pimps and johns, which are portrayed as predators.

In the light of Cockbain and Brayley (2012, p. 689), sexual exploitation …(content removed – please contact us to access full version).


The law of Child Protection has utilised the term “high-risk” for the issues arising from the sexual exploitation as it differently depends on whether it is related to a child or young people (Coy, 2008, p. 1408). The high risk towards sexual exploitation signifies the grave concerns of the parents for protecting their children for the purpose of their health and wellbeing (Jakobsson and Kotsadam, 2013). According to Berelowitz (2013), the high-risk for sexual exploitation is described as the change in the behaviour of the people due to substance abuse, sexual offending and prostitution, which is a serious concern of the parents within the present world. One of the common issues identified for the sexual exploitation is the prostitution, sexuality and violence, which impose the government officials to implement policies and legislation to mitigate such problems. 

Additionally, the sexual exploitation also occurs in the social context as it creates a normalised violence for the female gender. This implies that young women mostly experience the sexual exploitation as they are at higher risk of sexual assault, rape and domestic violence. It can also lead to violence, intimidation and coercion, which are frequently presented in the conditions of sexual exploitations (Warrington, 2010). Therefore, the sexual exploitation of the young people is formed as a result of constrained choices for social, emotional vulnerability and economic background. Moreover, the sexual exploitation of youth is not only limited to prostitution but also towards commercial sexual exploitation of the children and young people in the form of pornography (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and the Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes,  2010). As a result, the young male and females are also sexually exploited because of porn videos. The map below represents the amount of risk present in the UK on sexual exploitation. 

Figure 3: Sexual Exploitation in London

Source: Gov.UK (2016)

Impact of Culture on Sexual Exploitation

In the light of Berelowitz (2013), it was explained that there is a culture of purchasing sex in most of the countries, which is also considered as the proper behaviour of men. In Thailand, for instance, it’s legal to have sex with a prostitute for the first time. Likewise, the study of UK examined the online culture of purchasing sex was also found that the culture of buying sex is considered as normal and also considered as the non-deviant behaviour of men. A study conducted by Rafferty (2013) found that people could also purchase sex online for the purpose of emotional relationship and companionship while others want to have an experience of sex with their girlfriends. Moreover, in the Asian culture, it is found vulnerable to have sexual exploitation in the cultural and social norms and values of Asia…(content removed – please contact us to access full version)

Future Outlook

The future outlook for the sexual exploitation in the UK can be explained by taking initiatives by the local authorities in the UK to ensure that the managers oversee their individuals checking out for cases of sexual exploitation. Moreover, the administrators in the local authorities must also formulate plans of assessment and review cases to make necessary arrangements for mitigating the sexual exploitation orientation and address the risk appropriately (Kloess, Beech and Harkins, 2014). It should also be ensured by the local authorities that every child and young people from the missing episode should establish a set of practices for the purpose of obtaining information regarding sexual exploitation. This should also be directed towards the surety that schools and local authorities should assess the risk for young people and individual children. Moreover, a preventative and self-protection program should be developed for the child sexual exploitation…(Content removed – please contact us to access full version)


For concluding the discussion, it was made evident in the debate above that sexual exploitation in the UK is continuously increasing in the lens of children and young people. The focus is much created towards the high-risk behavior of the different genders in which the people are surrounded by gangs and other people. However, it should be an important consideration that the children and young people should be protected for their social life and wellbeing. On the other hand, there many issues related to sexual exploitation such as sexuality, prostitution, pornography and high influence of social media, which creates a transition, state for the young people. In most of the literature explained above. The question related to youth and children who have no choice than to go through with sexual exploitations through prostitutions and pornography and receive payment for making porn videos. In this context, the government should determine action plans for eliminating the crucial situation from the country. It is also required to bring healthcare, education, law enforcement and legislations together so that an appropriate system and structure can be made to stop sexual violence against young children and people.


  • Albanese, J., 2013. Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children: What Do We Know and what Do We Do about It?. BiblioGov.
  • Beckett, H., 2011. Not a world away: the sexual exploitation of children and young people in Northern Ireland. Barnardo’s Northern Ireland: Belfast.
  • Beckett, H., Brodie, I., Factor, F., Melrose, M., Pearce, J.J., Pitts, J., Shuker, L. and Warrington, C., 2013. ” It’s wrong, but you get used to it”: a qualitative study of gang-associated sexual violence towards, and exploitation of, young people in England. The University of Bedfordshire.
  • Berelowitz, S., 2013. If only someone had listened: Office of the Children’s Commissioner’s inquiry into child sexual exploitation in gangs and groups. Final report.
  • Cedeño, M., 2012. Pimps, johns, and juvenile prostitutes: Is New York doing enough to combat the commercial sexual exploitation of children. Cornell JL & Pub. Pol’y22, p.153.
  • Cockbain, E. and Brayley, H., 2012. Child sexual exploitation and youth offending: A research note. European Journal of Criminology9(6), pp.689-700.
  • Dank, M.L., 2011. The commercial sexual exploitation of children. LFB Scholarly Pub.
  • Data Forum, U. (n.d.). UK Strategy for Data Resources for Social and Economic Research 2009-2012. SSRN Electronic Journal.
  • The government, U. (2017). The sexual exploitation of children: it couldn’t happen here, could it?…

(complete list of references can be provided on request)


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