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date: 23 July 2024

Child Sexual Exploitationlocked

Child Sexual Exploitationlocked

  • Jonah R. RimerJonah R. RimerSchool of Social Science, The University of Queensland

Summary

Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a broad term that refers to a form of child sexual abuse (CSA) involving some combination of particular elements including power imbalance, grooming, manipulation, coercion, deception, fraud, force, threats, exchange, or status. Definitions, research, and resources are inconsistent and often conflate different kinds of CSE and CSA, making the concept difficult to generalize and questioning the utility of separating CSE from CSA. There are also persistent misunderstandings and myths that continue to pervade society, including “stranger danger” and the notion that CSE cannot happen in one’s own community, which have potential to negatively impact community protective behaviors. There are multiple kinds of CSE, both offline and online, and demarcating offline and online is not always possible or advisable. More than one type of CSE may be present in a single case because they are not mutually exclusive. These include child sexual exploitation material (CSEM), livestreaming, capping, online sexual solicitation and child luring, sextortion, commercial sexual exploitation, CSA tourism, human trafficking, and forced marriage. Common among these, although potentially in different forms, is a process of grooming.

Because CSE is diverse, it is difficult to generalize about offenders and victims. However, victims are more likely to be female, whereas offenders are more likely to be male. Also common across crime types are a host of social, emotional, personal, and physical effects on and consequences for victims, some of which may be exacerbated if there are online elements such as images or videos. Current best practice suggests that responding to victims should be done through a trauma-informed approach that avoids victim-blaming. For offenders, risk management is done through assessments, post-release laws, and treatment, all of which have their own limitations.

Because CSE is complex and includes a range of crimes, different theoretical and conceptual perspectives can be applied to the topic. Some of these focus on sexual offending against children generally, whereas others situate CSE within more macro structures. These theories and perspectives include Lanning’s situational versus preferential offender typology, the psychological concept of “cognitive distortions,” Finkelhor’s model of preconditions to CSA, the Good Lives Model of offending and rehabilitation, ecological systems theory, criminological perspectives that emphasize situational and environmental factors, and anthropological perspectives on the internet. Prevention of CSE victimization should be evidence-based and not founded on misconceptions or myths; however, not all prevention programs have engaged with realistic and accurate understandings of CSE. Overall, CSE is complex, and nuance is required in research, practice, and policy to reflect this complexity.

Subjects

  • Criminal Behavior
  • Victimology/Criminal Victimization

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