Childline’s Annual Review released today shows the charity delivered 4,500 counselling sessions around child sexual exploitation in 2018/19, a 16% increase on the previous year. The youngest child was just 9.
In more than a third of counselling sessions about child sexual exploitation young people said they were targeted online – usually through social media or video games, and often by their peers or people they knew.
Most commonly children got help from Childline because they were forced to perform or watch sexual acts. Some were threatened and told that naked images would be shared with friends and family.
Exploitation featured in more than half of the counselling sessions about sexual abuse while some children had received gifts or affection in exchange for sexual activities.
The number of children aged 16-18 receiving counselling for sexual exploitation had increased by a quarter.
The NSPCC is calling on the Government to provide proper training to teachers so they can deliver effective and relevant lessons about healthy relationships, consent and sex; and support young people to get help from a trusted adult.
“Sadly, we are hearing from young people every day who are being manipulated or blackmailed into carrying out sexual acts.
The Government must ensure teachers are confident to teach the new Relationship and Sex education lessons rolling out next year, and Childline needs more volunteers to make sure they can be there for every child who needs our help, at all times of day and night.” said Peter Wanless, NSPCC Chief Executive