Understanding mental capacity
Understanding mental capacity

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Understanding mental capacity

3.1 Child sexual exploitation

Child sexual exploitation is defined by the UK government as follows:

Child sexual exploitation is a form of child abuse. It occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into sexual activity (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or (b) for the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator. The victim may have been sexually exploited even if the sexual activity appears consensual.

(Department for Education, 2017, p. 5)

Note that child sexual exploitation can involve anyone under the age of 18, even though 16- and 17-year-olds can legally consent to sex.

Activity 5 Child sexual exploitation

Timing: Allow about 20 minutes

Watch the animation below, which was produced by The Children's Society. It is about Taylor, the subject of child sexual exploitation. Note your feelings at the end of the video.

Download this video clip.Video player: Taylor’s experiences
Skip transcript: Taylor’s experiences

Transcript: Taylor’s experiences

My name is Taylor, and I'm 15. I live with my mum and dad, but I don't see them that much. They're always working. I've been having some problems at school. Other kids tease me. The teachers don't listen. They blame me for stupid stuff.
Sometimes I feel lonely. I have no one to talk to about my problems. My girlfriend is probably the only one that cares for me. She understands what I'm going through. She makes me feel like a boss. I know that she loves me.
The squad rate me now that I have a girlfriend. They pick me up from school. I feel safe with them. They call me their big man. It's always fun when we go out with the squad. We drink and hang out. My safety is guaranteed.
My girlfriend texts me a lot. She always wants to know what I'm doing. The other day, she asked me to send her a selfie with no clothes on, but I didn't really want to. She said I hadn't paid her back for the trainers that she got me. She said I was ungrateful and that I had to have some fun with her. She told me that I should be a proper boyfriend.
When I ignore her, she gets angry and usually argues with me at school. I feel so much pressure from her. She gets angry because I won't send her pictures. I feel so bad. She says that I have to pay her back for everything that she has ever bought me. She keeps telling me to send her selfies or videos. She's trying to rush me. I'm so confused.
She says I'm not a man like the others. I sent her a selfie. She sent it to everyone.
If anyone is putting you under pressure to do stuff you're not comfortable with, The Children's Society can help.
End transcript: Taylor’s experiences
Taylor’s experiences
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).


You might have felt angry with Taylor's girlfriend, who probably is the same age as Taylor. It seems that the young people in the Squad, with whom Taylor feels safe, are older than him and may or may not be a positive influence.

Taylor believed that his girlfriend was someone he could trust, but she too may have been exploited or pressurised by others to persuade Taylor to provide a photo. Taylor's sense of self is likely to have been damaged by this incident and the circulation of the photo is now beyond his control. It could be a trigger for a deterioration in his mental health and his capacity to make safe decisions.

Skip Your course resources

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371