One of the rights of children is that they have the 'right to be safe and cared for.' Unfortunately we live in a very dangerous and sick world where some adults do not put a child's care first and some kids are being exploited.
One kind of exploitation that takes place a lot is 'sexual exploitation' or 'CSE' ('child sexual exploitation). This can happen to any age of kids, not only teenagers.
Sexual exploitation is the sexual abuse of children and youth through the exchange of sex or sexual acts for drugs, food, shelter, protection, other basics of life, and/or money. Sexual exploitation includes involving children and youth in creating pornography and sexually explicit websites.
It can happen to boys or girls, any race or does not matter from what background you come, but the most important thing to remember is that it is not because of something that you did wrong, it is because of sick people who only think about themselves.
These people who are out to hurt you will do their best to become your friend. There are many ways you can meet them and it can even be a family member or online or while hanging out with your friends. They are very clever and make sure that they act like someone very 'cool' and with who you would like to 'hang out' with.
Once they have your trust they will start pushing or forcing you in a direction where you will end up being used as they see fit.
They will also make you feel shame if you ever think about telling someone about this or they will let it sound like it is a 'good secret' to keep or if they fail, they will threaten you or your loved ones. They will also try and keep you away from your family so that you will start depending on them.
The fact that you do not tell somebody or even enjoy the attention will make you feel bad about yourself and ashamed and that is what this person wants, because then he knows you will not talk about it.
Remember: Nobody has the right to make you feel bad about yourself or hurt you in any way or make you do things against your will.
The person that is sexually exploiting you doesn't necessarily have to be an older adult, it can even be your boyfriend/girlfriend that expects certain things from you that you do not feel comfortable with.
The following are some warning signs that you can look out for for you or your friends or situations you can prevent
- an older, very demanding boyfriend or girlfriend
- your friend misses a lot of school or goes out a lot late at night and are secretive
- somebody is very eager to give you money or buy you things, but always expects something in return
- be careful if you chat online with people you do not know - do not give out too much personal information. Be aware if someone you do not know asks too many questions and just sounds 'too good to be true'
- do not accept gifts from people who wants something in return
- do not get into a stranger's car
- do not meet up with strangers in quiet places or go to parties where you do not know the people
If you feel in any way that you are forced into something you do not feel comfortable with, you need to tell an adult and get out of that situation as quick;y as possible.
Do not think that people that exploit kids are only the people that look 'bad'. It can even be your friendly neighbor, so be vigilant and look out for signs and behavior that makes you feel uncomfortable.
How can you make sure that you protect yourself or a friend?
- speak up - do not feel you have to keep it a secret
- say 'No' if you do not feel comfortable with something that your girlfriend or boyfriend asks of you
- unfortunately you cannot trust everybody, so even though they seem nice and friendly do not just trust everybody
- do not talk to strangers online
- if people - even if you know them- speak in an inappropriate way to you, tell them right away that you will not stand for it. If they text you inappropriate things, block them
- make sure to tell your parents where you are going and when you will be back
Remember - people that really care for you will respect it when you do not want to do something. They will not try and convince you with stories or promises or force you into something.
Get out as quickly as possible when somebody makes you feel uncomfortable - they do not demand something because they love you.
So even if you like that boy or girl, if they make you feel pressured, you need to leave.