The Missing Continuum and Missing Scenarios suggest different vulnerability factors and consequently different opportunities for predators to exploit young people.
Exploitation (e.g. child sexual exploitation, criminal exploitation, gang involvement, and radicalisation) operates in two directions: children may be vulnerable to exploitation due to “Push Factors” (the need to get away from someone, somewhere or something) which may be located within their home environment or social networks (e.g. Domestic abuse, abuse and neglect, school problems, bullying) and “Pull Factors” (the need to get to someone, somewhere or something) and these factors may be offered by the abuser in the context of grooming (the illusion of love and affection, supply of drugs, or psychological coercion and emotional blackmail) (Sharp, 2012)
Nationally, the majority of missing Incidents concern children missing from home (National Policing Improvement Agency, 2010, Sharp, 2012). Significantly, the majority of Missing Cases were not open social care referrals at the time of the Missing Incident. The number of incidents may also be much higher as many missing from home incidents go unreported to Police.
The status of children is also an important consideration in developing a fuller picture of Missing Children and those at risk of CSE: Looked After Children are more likely to be reported missing to the Police than those missing from home, they are also more likely to go missing repeatedly (National Policing Improvement Agency, 2010).
Incidents of migrant children (unaccompanied asylum-seeking children) going missing from local authority care may be linked to serious organised crime such as Trafficking (National Policing Improvement Agency, 2010,Sharp, 2012). These factors need to be clarified locally as they may have an effect of prevalence statistics and interpretation of patterns of Missing Incidents.
There has been little research regarding Exit Strategies for young people trying to escape exploitation but it is possible, in some cases, that going missing results from a need to escape abusers and threats of violence. Sharp observes that in some cases females have been used by abusers to infiltrate refuge services to access CSE victims and draw them back into the network (Sharp, 2012).
What is clear is that Children that go missing are vulnerable to CSE and other forms of exploitation. However, children that are being exploited are very likely to go missing at some point and repeatedly thereafter. Thus CSE, Gang Involvement, Exploitation, and Radicalisation is both a cause and a consequence of missing episodes and it may not always be possible to separate missing incidents from exploitation. You can go straight to the Exploitation of Children Page from HERE