Exploitation – this means someone using another person for their own gain. These gains might include sexual pleasure, power, status or financial or criminal gain. Some of the ways young people are exploited include involvement with drugs, moving, holding or carrying weapons, sexually, stealing, organised fights, radicalisation, identifying other children for recruitment etc. Many young people experiencing this kind of harm may be exploited in multiple ways. Young people can be exploited on and offline, often in both spaces at the same time by the same person or people. These types of abusers target all and any spaces where young people live their lives.
Exploitation & Neglect – As humans we have lots of needs, including the need to feel loved. Some young people may feel neglected or unsupported by the adults around them. If a young person feels like they are not being looked after, heard or respected it might feel really good to have someone who pays them attention. People who exploit are really good at identifying and targeting those who feel neglected, but there are genuine people who can help if you feel this way. Click HERE to read more about what neglect means and how to access support.
Sexual Exploitation – You might know most about exploitation or grooming in relation to sexual activity. You can find out more about this HERE
Grooming can also involve young people being exposed to harmful ideas and messages around race, gender, sexuality or any of the other characteristics that make us a varied and interesting species. Some radical groups might target the places young people hang out online to try and influence their ideas and thoughts but this can happen offline too. There is usually a sinister motive to this – young people’s brains are still developing and it’s a key time to form lifelong values. These groups are also much more likely to target young people who are vulnerable in some way – it’s much easier to persuade someone who feels sad, angry, confused or lonely that hate speech or even criminal behaviour is justified.
Criminal Exploitation – young people can also be approached on or offline by criminals. This might involve things like money laundering (being asked to look after or move money for someone) or being asked to move/sell drugs or weapons. This might start out feeling exciting or like they’re “special”. The person doing the exploiting might give a young person things like money, drugs or a lift in the car when they need it. They might also provide non-material things like time or a listening ear so the young person starts to see them as a friend. Watch the video below to hear Vincent’s story
These situations can quickly turn nasty and most young people caught up in them don’t realise they’re being used or manipulated until it’s too late. Many young people blame themselves for their abuse because they got/took something like money or gifts – this isn’t the case and it’s never the young person’s fault. There is ALWAYS help available.
If you’re worried about the language or messages you’re hearing on or offline, or have doubts about someone’s behaviour towards you, you can ask us a question or contact Childline.
In some areas there may be specialist services who can help. If you live in Tayside please contact Barnardos or Action For Children. If you live in any of our other areas please contact one of the support services mentioned above.