Child Exploitation and County Lines
Child Exploitation is a crime that can affect any child, anytime, anywhere, regardless of their age, ability, social or ethnic background. Child Exploitation can be carried out by individuals, street gangs or groups, but in all cases, there is an imbalance of power - vulnerable children are controlled and abused by adults or by other children.
County Lines is the name given to describe drug dealing by criminal gangs from urban areas expanding their activities into smaller towns and rural areas. It often involves the exploitation of children to transport drugs and money.
In cases of exploitation, children and young people are often tricked into believing they're being welcomed into a new friendship, group or relationship. They may trust or look up to their abuser and not understand that they're being abused.
Abusers can sometimes use violence and intimidation to frighten or force a child or young person, making them feel as if they have no choice. They may lend them large sums of money they know cannot be repaid or use financial abuse to control them. In layman's terms: Child Exploitation is when someone takes advantage of the vulnerability of a child or young person.
Anybody can be a perpetrator of Child Exploitation, no matter their age, gender or race. Children and young people who are exploited may also be used to 'find' or coerce others to join groups.
Children are NEVER to blame in cases of exploitation – they are always regarded as the victim, whatever the scenario.