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Sexual exploitation

The sexual exploitation of children, young people and vulnerable adults is an often hidden form of sexual abuse, with distinctive elements of exploitation and exchange.

In practice, the sexual exploitation of children, young people and vulnerable adults might involve them being coerced, manipulated, forced or deceived into performing and/or others performing on them, sexual activities in exchange for receiving some form of material goods or other entity (for example, food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, gifts, affection).

In all cases those exploiting the child/young person or vulnerable adult have power over them by virtue of their age, gender, intellect, physical strength and/or economic or other resources. Violence, coercion and intimidation are often common features; involvement in exploitative relationships being characterised in the main by the victim’s limited availability of choice resulting from their social, economic and/or emotional vulnerability. In some cases, the sexual activity may just take place between one person and the perpetrator (whether an adult or peer). In other situations a person may be passed for sex between two or more perpetrators or this may be organised exploitation (often by criminal gangs or organised groups).

Sexual exploitation can occur through the use of technology and a person at risk might not immediately be aware of what’s happening or what the risks are.

If you have concerns or are worried about someone who is over the age of 16 years, contact South Ayrshire Adult Support and Protection.

If you have concerns about a child or young person please contact the Council's Social Work Child Protection Services on 01292 267675 or call 0800 328 7758 if out of hours.

If the person is at immediate risk, telephone the Police. Dial 999.

Further information may be obtained from:

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