Sexual Exploitation of Boys and Young Men

Types of CSE

Sexual Exploitation of Boys and Young Men

The sexual exploitation of boys and young men does happen.

The Government Education Department Guidance published in 2009, supported by research in the field acknowledges that boys and young men, as well as girls and young women can be sexually exploited. Research in this area ( “Hidden in Plain Sight”) has been undertaken by NatCen, Barnardo’s and UCL has seen an increasing body of knowledge of issues involved developing (See resources). However there is a need for wider recognition and understanding of the issue.

Why does the sexual exploitation of boys and young men continue to go unrecognised?

Young men have explained that their sexual exploitation is often overlooked by practitioners. There is some evidence that young men who are being sexually exploited are more likely to be criminalised for their behaviour and viewed as a perpetrator. Young men’s victim hood often goes unrecognised and professionals may tend to focus on boys and young men’s outward behaviour, such as offending or drug and alcohol use, without questioning the reasons behind it.

Behaviours that may be likely to be recognised as evidence of risk for a girl or young women may be interpreted as a young man experimenting with their sexuality or demonstrating sexually harmful behaviours to others.

In addition boys and young men may be less likely to, or find it more difficult to disclose than young women. Without a disclosure it may be difficult for professionals to justify the time commitment to support a young man at risk of, or suspected of being sexually exploited.

If you would like to learn more about this area of work there are various training opportunities and you can also become a member of the NWG Network Diversity Forum which meets several times per year. For more details please visit our events page or contact