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Spike in child exploitation cases spark calls for action

The last month has seen an increase in media reports of cases featuring commercial sexual exploitation, where girls and young women have been sexually exploited for money by people close to them.

Cases featuring parents, grandparents, friends, and partners exploiting their young, vulnerable victims by arranging ‘clients’ for sexual purposes highlights the need for New Zealand to face up to the alarming growing problem of commercial sexual exploitation of children and young people.

Child Alert suggests that there are often missed opportunities to intervene in cases of young person being exploited and this is supported by a recent New Zealand research on commercial sexual exploitation of young people that found that health and social services were dismally unprepared to respond to the needs of victims.

“What we need is specialist training in recognizing and responding to cases of commercial sexual exploitation. This will help create a consistent approach across sectors towards protecting children and young people from being exploited,” said Sandy Thompson, the acting Director of Child ALERT.

Ms. Thompson added that the only way to effectively combat the commercial exploitation of children and other vulnerable people would be through reinstating a National Plan of Action that aligns to New Zealand’s commitment to the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.

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