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What is Child Exploitation?

Child exploitation is a type of abuse. When children are exploited, or ‘groomed’, they are often given things like gifts, money, drugs, respect or affection. This is usually in exchange for undertaking criminal activity, which is known as child criminal exploitation, or partaking in sexual activities or acts, which is known as child sexual exploitation. 

Exploitation does not always occur in one place, children can be taken to places outside of their home town, which is known as trafficking. Children may be moved around to different places and be forced to take part in criminal or sexual activities.  

What are the some signs of child exploitation?

  • Returning home late, or staying out all night 
  • Going missing (sometimes frequently)
  • An increase in possessions (e.g., new phone(s), shoes, clothes, jewellery, money)
  • Frequently visiting places away from home
  • Increased drug use, or having a lot of drugs in their possession
  • Poor attendance in school, college or work, which is often unexplained
  • Changes in behaviour, such as increased aggression
  • Changes in language used (e.g., swearing, violence, sexual or drug related terms)


Doncaster's approach to tackling Child Exploitation:

Team Doncaster's strategic plan to tackling child exploitation includes 5 key components: Education, Prevention, Intervention, Enforcement and Enablers. Click through the key components below to learn more. 


We want all staff and residents to be able to identify the signs of potential exploitation and know how to access supportive services

This means improving our communication and messaging across the borough and the partnership alongside ensuring that training opportunities are available for all staff and partners


We want to proactively work with children and young people, and communities that are more at risk of experiencing exploitation so that issues are identified and tackled earlier.

This means developing a more integrated and targeted youth offer, being more effective in our engagement of young people experiencing missing episodes, and embedding approaches to tackling exploitation in our localities model.


We want our approach to working with young people identified as either experiencing, or at risk of, exploitation to be as effective as possible.

This means embracing the MACE model of integrated partnership working and ensuring that the process is self-improving and outcome focused.


We want those who pose a threat to children and young people to be subject to the fullest extent of legal consequences for their actions.

This means maximizing the use of our enforcement options and coordinating responses across the partnership to ensure that perpetrators are effectively tackled and their activity disrupted.


We want our activity to be enabled by effective data, intelligence, and commissioning activity that promote consistency, create a single understanding of exploitation, and shift the partnership’s focus towards the ethos of early intervention and prevention.

This means developing effective data and intelligence sharing arrangements, and ensuring approaches to commissioning are universal across the partnership and integrated into all decision making processes.

South Yorkshire Police Child Exploitation Campaign: Stop child exploitation

' From 2023 South Yorkshire Police will have a dedicated exploitation team in each of the four districts - Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham, and Sheffield. Officers in these teams are specialists in supporting victims and investigating such crimes.

We also work with partners such as local councils, support agencies and charities to ensure we continue to develop our knowledge, identify vulnerable children and offer the best possible support to those affected.'

Visit the webpage to find out more about the South Yorkshire Police Child Exploitation Campaign: Stop child exploitation


Even the happiest of childhoods can be destroyed by exploitation