Children may be exploited in one or more ways. Often, one form of exploitation may make the child more vulnerable to other types of abuse and exploitation; for example, a child trafficked for domestic servitude may also be sexually abused by adults in the household. The main types of exploitation are:

Sexual Exploitation

Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a form of sexual abuse that involves the manipulation and/or coercion of young people under the age of 18 into sexual activity. This includes abuse of the child for the production of child abuse images or videos.

Domestic Servitude

Domestic servitude involves the victim being forced to work in private households. Their movement will often be restricted, and they will be forced to perform household tasks such as childcare and housekeeping over long hours and for little, if any, pay. Victims will usually lead very isolated lives and have little or no unsupervised freedom, but may still attend school. Their own privacy and comfort will be minimal, often sleeping on a mattress on the floor, hidden in a cellar or locked room. In rare circumstances where victims receive a wage, it will be heavily reduced, ostensibly to pay for food and accommodation.

Forced Labour

Forced labour involves victims being compelled to work very long hours, often in arduous conditions, and to relinquish the majority, if not all, of their wages. Identity documents are retained by the traffickers, meaning the young people cannot leave or prove their identity. In many cases, victims are subjected to verbal threats or violence to achieve compliance. Victims can be forced to work in various industries, such as manufacturing, catering, entertainment, travel, farming and construction. Often, large numbers of individuals are housed in single dwellings.

Forced Criminality

Forced Criminality can be understood as the exploitation of a person to commit a crime, such as pick-pocketing, shoplifting, cannabis cultivation, drug trafficking and other similar activities that are subject to penalties and imply financial gain for the trafficker.

Organ Harvesting

Kidneys are in the greatest demand and are the only major organs that can be wholly transplanted with relatively few risks to the life of the donor.

Forced Begging

Children, including babies and young children, can be used as tools for begging. Children may also be forced to beg alone, with the money handed to adults and gangs controlling them.

Benefit Fraud

Benefit fraud commonly involves adults who exploit children to facilitate fraudulent claims of Child Benefit and Working Tax Credits. Such benefit payments are managed via the postal service, so face-to-face interviews with claimants are rarely conducted, making it difficult to detect fraudulent activity. HM Revenue & Customs will often seek to verify if a claim is genuine by checking if a child has been registered at a local school and/or doctors’ surgery. Child traffickers are aware of these checks and often place a child in a school for a short period of time before removing them. In some instances, where enquiries have been made in relation to the whereabouts of non-attending/withdrawn children, they have been returned to the school. In other cases, children have been registered at schools with long waiting lists. This process generates a letter that can be used to facilitate fraudulent claims.6

Other Types Of Exploitation

Other activities, such as illegal adoption or forced marriage, may be considered trafficking in so far as they fulfil the constitutive elements of trafficking in human beings.

The UK Human Trafficking Centre noted in 2013 that 40% of child victims had been trafficked for sexual exploitation, 19% for forced criminality, 7% for forced labour, 6% for domestic servitude and less than 1% for organ harvesting. The exploitation was as yet unknown in 24% of cases, and in 2% of incidents multiple exploitation types were recorded. However, it is difficult to be sure if these figures represent the reality of child trafficking in the UK. For example, domestic servitude is often more difficult to detect as the child is kept in a residential setting, where often the only people who know that the child is there are the family itself – which may mean fewer victims are being identified. Similarly, there has traditionally been much less focus on children exploited in labour or criminality than sexual exploitation.