Child sexual exploitation is a form of abuse which involves children (male and female, of different ethnic origins and of different ages) receiving something in exchange for sexual activity. Perpetrators of sexual exploitation are found in all parts of the country and are not restricted to particular ethnic groups.
The national action plan for tackling child sexual exploitation, published on 23 November 2011, brought together actions by the Government and a range of national and local partners to protect children from this largely hidden form of child abuse.
The action plan looks at sexual exploitation from the perspective of the child. It highlights areas where more needs to be done, and sets out specific action that the Government, local agencies, and voluntary and community sector partners need to take, to address this abuse.
On 3 July 2012, the Government issued the first report on progress, along with a new step-by-step guide on what frontline practitioners should do if they suspect a child is being sexually exploited. The guide complements, and should be read in conjunction with, the Safeguarding children and young people from sexual exploitation statutory guidance, published in 2009.
The Government also announced, through a written ministerial statement, urgent action to help protect young people in residential care following two reports: the Office of the Children’s Commissioner’s early report on emerging findings from the inquiry into child sexual exploitation in gangs and groups; and the report from the joint inquiry into children who go missing from care, issued by the All Party Parliamentary Groups for Runaway and Missing Children, and for Looked After Children and Care Leavers. Details of the action being taken in response to the reports were set out in ministerial letters to Sue Berelowitz and Ann Coffey MP which were also published on 3 July.
At the same time, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families wrote to Local Safeguarding Children Board chairs and local authority directors of children’s services, seeking their continued support in tackling child sexual exploitation.
On 21 November 2012, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner published an interim report from its two-year inquiry into child sexual exploitation in gangs and groups.
On 18 January 2013, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families wrote to the Deputy Children’s Commissioner outlining the Government’s response to recommendations in the report.
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Information about government reforms to protect children in care from sexual exploitation, and the report from the Office of the Children's Commissioner.