The statutory definition of child sexual exploitation is being updated by the government after the previous one was found to be outdated. The previous definition had been used since 2009, but was thought to be unclear, leading the Home Office to change it following a consultation earlier in the year.
In order to reflect the changes made to the statutory definition of child sexual exploitation, the Department for Education has altered its ‘Working Together’ child safeguarding guidance. It has also released new guidance for those working with child sexual exploitation so that all information is cohesive and in-line with the new definition.
The new definition of child sexual exploitation is now clearer and states:
“Child sexual exploitation is a form of child sexual abuse. It occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into sexual activity (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or (b) for the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator.
“The victim may have been sexually exploited even if the sexual activity appears consensual. Child sexual exploitation does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur through the use of technology.”
Alongside the changes, the government has also announced that it will grant new funding to create a Centre for Expertise in Child Sexual Abuse in a bid to tackle child sexual exploitation. The centre will be created with £7.5 million worth of government funding but will be independent of the government. It is designed to be an authoritative source of research, information, best practice and innovation.
These changes have come into effect just as a progress report was published that looks at how the government's strategy is working in regards to tackling child sexual exploitation. The report revealed that improvements to frontline social work and systems had formed key parts of the strategy's successes.
According to the report, the strategy has seen a 14 per cent rise in the number of defendants being prosecuted for abuses relating to child sexual abuse. There has also been a 19 per cent increase in offenders being convicted.
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