What is Child Sexual Exploitation and what impact does it have?

The sexual exploitation of children in New Zealand and around the world has become ubiquitous. The sheer numbers of perpetrators indicates that it is not just the “paedophile” that is guilty of these crimes; but rather the problem is far more systemic. To fight this tide of evil requires social attitude change; we cannot, as a society, allow it to continue. Studies show that the simple of act of raising awareness of issues, helps to dissipate them.
There are multiple causes for CSEC or circumstances that put children at high risk to become a victim of CSEC. The main cause is the demand from males to purchase sex with minors. A money making industry has been created to service the demand. The commercial sexual exploitation of children consists of criminal practices that demean, degrade and threaten the physical and psychological integrity of children in return for profit. Secondary factors such as lack of awareness, family dysfunction, violence, substance abuse, weak legislation, poor law enforcement and poverty all contribute but without the basic demand even these on their own would not sustain CSEC. As with all money making endeavours the market is based on supply and demand. Sexual exploitation can have serious short- and long-term physical, psychological and social consequences - directly at first for the children, but further also for their families and communities. Victims are at high risk of unwanted pregnancies and of contracting HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. The minority of children who do manage to escape the sex trade face social stigma, family rejection, shame, fear of retribution, and the loss of future economic prospects. Other psychological symptoms can be depression, personality or sexual orientation confusion, problems with behaviour (aggressiveness or anger), trouble sleeping, loss of self-confidence, mistrust or hatred towards adults. SOURCED: ECPAT

Article 34: Governments must protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation

1 in 4 NZ women were sexually abused as a child