The sexual exploitation of children, young people and adults at risk of harm 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 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 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.
People with learning disabilities have the same rights to consensual and loving relationships as anyone else. They have the right to be treated with respect and dignity and to feel safe. They have the right to make choices and to have information that helps them to do this.
However, adults with learning disabilities can be more vulnerable to abuse than others for lots of different reasons.
If you have concerns or are worried about a child or young person or someone who is over the age of 16 years, use the contact details below.
If the person is at immediate risk, telephone the Police. Dial 999.
Further information may be obtained from: