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date: 30 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This essay explores key questions emerging from recent research with children who experience commercial child sexual exploitation. It examines the discrepancies between children’s right to be protected from all forms of violence, including sexual violence, and the right to express their views. Child protection has traditionally focused on protecting younger children from sexual abuse in the home, so a conceptual shift is needed to embrace the needs of older children who are making their own decisions about how to respond to and manage adversity. The author proposes a child protection system that understands the various forms of exploitation of children in public spaces and within the informal economies of drug and sex markets. The author argues for a ‘social model’ for contextualizing consent to sexual activity that takes into account the economic, social, and environmental pressures on young people.

Keywords: child protection, commercial, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, sexual violence, social model

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