Children or young people may be tricked into believing they’re in a loving, consensual relationship. The person who is exploiting you may well give you gifts, treat you as an adult and be very friendly to you to gain your trust. This can happen face-to-face, or online.
Once they have gained your trust, they will begin to exert their power over you. In some situations, an abuser will give a child or a young person gifts (such as food, alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes) if they take part in sexual activities with them or other people. In other situations, the abusers will be more affectionate to a young victim if they take part in sexual activities, or use threats, violence or humiliation if they refuse to take part.
Young people can be trafficked into the UK from other countries for sexual exploitation. Some young people also get trafficked within the UK. Some young people can become victims of sexual exploitations through gangs – this can be through rival gangs or members of their own gang. Watch this animiated video about trafficking on BBC News.
Sexual exploitation is a crime which happens to boys and girls, and it can be really hard to spot. Often people think they’re in a good relationship, even after things have turned bad. But there are warning signs. It’s really important that you know how to spot them so you can protect yourself and your friends.