Types of Abuse: Forced Marriages, Honour-Based Violence, Child Trafficking, Child Criminal Exploitations and Gangs

This blog is part 4 in a series of blogs about abuse. In our previous blogs, Types of abuse 1, Types of abuse 2 and Types of abuse 3 we looked at physical, sexual, neglect, emotional, child sexual exploitation, radicalisation and peer on peer abuse with bullying/online bullying and female genital mutilation. In this blog, we will be looking at forced marriages and honour-based violence, child trafficking and child criminal exploitations and gangs. These are in no way an exhaustive list but it is a way of being aware that, however small, a change in behaviour could be a sign that the child needs help. 

Content Warning: Please be advised that the content below is sensitive and contains detailed information concerning types of abuse and examples or symptoms of forced marriages and honour-based violence, child trafficking and child criminal exploitations and gangs. This may be triggering for some readers, discretion is advised. 

Forced Marriage 

Forced marriage is a safeguarding issue; it is a form of child abuse, domestic abuse and a breach of human rights. It can affect men as well as women, some may have disabilities and others may be spouses from overseas. It is therefore important to safeguard any child, young person or adult who may be, or has been subjected to a forced marriage. 

A forced marriage is where one or both people do not (or in cases of people with learning disabilities, cannot) consent to the marriage and pressure or abuse is used. It is recognised in the UK as a form of violence against women and men, domestic/child abuse and a serious abuse of human rights. 

The pressure put on people to marry against their will can be physical (including threats, actual physical violence and sexual violence) or emotional and psychological (for example, when someone is made to feel like they’re bringing shame on their family). Financial abuse (for example, taking wages) can also be a factor. 

A forced marriage should not be confused with an arranged marriage. Arranged marriages often work very well. Forced marriages are where one or both people are ‘forced’ into a marriage that their families want, without the valid consent of both people, where physical pressure or emotional abuse is used.  

You can find government guidance here: Forced Marriage 

Honour Based Violence 

Honour Based Violence and Abuse is a term used to justify abuse and violence. It is a crime or incident committed in order to protect or defend the family or community ‘honour’.

Honour based violence and abuse is a collection of practices used to control behaviour within families to protect perceived cultural and religious beliefs and/or honour. Violence can occur when perpetrators perceive that a relative has shamed the family and/or community by breaking their honour code.

Women are predominantly (but not exclusively) the victims, which can be distinguished from other forms of violence, as it is often committed with some degree of approval and/or support from family and/or community members.

Males can also be victims, sometimes as a consequence of their involvement in what is deemed to be an inappropriate relationship, if they are gay, or if they are believed to be supporting the victim.

Child Trafficking  

Trafficking is where children and young people are tricked, forced or persuaded to leave their homes and are moved or transported and then exploited, forced to work or sold. The reason that children might be trafficked are:

  • Sexual exploitation 
  • Benefit fraud 
  • Forced marriage 
  • Domestic slavery like cleaning, cooking and childcare 
  • Forced labour in factories or agriculture 
  • Committing crimes, like begging, theft, working on cannabis farms or moving drugs. 

Children that are trafficked are at risk of, neglect, physical or sexual abuse or even emotional abuse in order for the person who traffics them to have control.

There are signs and symptoms to look out for. They are: 

  • Spend a lot of time doing household chores 
  • Rarely leave their house or have no time for playing 
  • Live in low-standard accommodation 
  • Be unsure which country, city or town they're in 
  • Can't or are reluctant to share personal information 
  • Not be registered with a school or a GP practice 
  • Have no access to their parents or guardians 
  • Be seen in inappropriate places like brothels or factories 
  • Have money or things you wouldn't expect them to 
  • Have injuries from workplace accidents 
  • Give a prepared story which is very similar to stories given by other children. 

Contact the Modern Slavery Helpline to get help, report a suspicion or seek advice. Call 0800 012 1700 or fill in their online form. 

Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE) and Gangs 

Criminal exploitation against children is child abuse. It is where children and young people are manipulated, coerced and controlled to commit crimes. 

Gangs are, as defined in the government document - Safeguarding children and young people who may be affected by gang activity.

Peer Group: A relatively small and transient social grouping which may or may not describe themselves as a gang depending on the context. 

Street Gang: Groups of young people who see themselves (and are seen by others) as a discernible group for whom crime and violence is integral to the group's identity.

Organised Criminal Gangs: A group of individuals for whom involvement in crime is for personal gain (financial or otherwise). For most crime is their occupation.

County lines are also classed as CCE. They are a police term for urban gangs exploiting young people into moving drugs from a hub, normally a large city, into other markets - suburban areas and market and coastal towns - using dedicated mobile phone lines or “deal lines”. Children as young as 12 years old have been exploited into carrying drugs for gangs. This can involve children being trafficked away from their home area, staying in accommodation and selling and manufacturing drugs.  

Some of the signs that a child is a victim of CCE can include: 

  • Frequently absent from and not achieving in school. 
  • Going missing from home, staying out late and travelling for unexplained reasons. 
  • In a relationship or hanging out with someone older than them. 
  • Being angry, aggressive or violent. 
  • Being isolated or withdrawn. 
  • Having unexplained money and buying new things. 
  • Wearing clothes or accessories in gang colours or getting tattoos. 
  • Using new slang words. 
  • Spending more time on social media and being secretive about time online. 
  • Making more calls or sending more texts, possibly on a new phone or phones. 
  • Self-harming and feeling emotionally unwell. 
  • Taking drugs and abusing alcohol. 
  • Committing petty crimes like shoplifting or vandalism. 
  • Unexplained injuries and refusing to seek medical help. 
  • Carrying weapons or having a dangerous breed of dog. 

If you are worried that a child is at risk of CCE please contact the police. 

Part 1 of this blog series focuses on Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse and Neglect. 

Part 2 of this blog series focuses on Emotional abuse, Child Sexual Exploitation and Radicalisation.

Part 3 of this blog series focuses on Peer-on-Peer Abuse, Female Genital Mutilation, Bullying and Online Bullying


Seek Support

If you have any concerns, please speak to your safeguarding lead or contact the organisations below 

  • NSPCC Helpline - call 0808 800 5000 or email help@nspcc.org.uk
  • Childline - call 0800 1111 or use the 1-2-1 online chat
  • Education Support helpline - immediate, confidential emotional support for teaching staff 0800 562 561
Posted Date

25th March 2022

Vikkey Chaffe
Head of Community Relations

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