Authors: Kirsty Alderson, Carol A. Ireland, School of Psychology, University of Central Lancashire and CCATS: Coastal Child and Adult Therapeutic Services, UK.



CSE initiatives and policy have been adversely impacted by a lack of clarity in defining child sexual exploitation (CSE), as well as using language that can wrongly convey victim blame and responsibility for the abuse against them. This has led to several inquiries where services have struggled to support victims of CSE. This discussion paper aims to consider the issues, examining the links between CSE and child sexual abuse (CSA), and the challenges in defining CSE. This includes a suggested revised definition. Further, it summarises the challenges that have arisen using language in exploring CSE, and which may have potentially skewed prevalence rates as a result. This paper then considers the presentation of such language and the challenges this offers, with consideration of alternative approaches. It concludes by arguing the importance for researchers to be mindful and responsive to definitions of CSE and the use of language in interpreting results and engaging with this population.

Key words: Child Sexual Abuse, Child Sexual Exploitation, Definition, Prevalence, Language.

Vol 1, Issue 1, April 2020