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How to protect children from sexual exploitation

As Hosts, you have the power to contribute to the safety of minors from sexual exploitation in your property. We earnestly urge you to notify the CyberTipline if you suspect any instances of child sexual exploitation. Moreover, if you employ cameras within or nearby your property, it’s imperative to adhere to Hubsplit’s guidelines on the usage of cameras and recording equipment. As specified in these guidelines, cameras must not be directed at private areas and their presence should be clearly mentioned in the property description for the awareness of guests.

Defining child sexual exploitation

Child sexual exploitation refers to the act where an individual, typically an adult, manipulates or coerces a child into engaging in some form of sexual activity in return for something the child needs or desires, and/or for the financial advantage or increased status of the exploiter or others. This exploitation can manifest in various ways, including:

  • Prostitution or other forms of sexual activity.
  • Production of sexual imagery or pornographic content.
  • Online exploitation, where children may be manipulated into sharing explicit images or videos of themselves.
  • Grooming behaviors where an adult befriends a child to exploit them sexually, which might take place in person or online.
  • Sex tourism, where individuals travel to engage in sexual activity with minors in specific destinations.

It’s crucial to recognize that the child is always the victim in these situations, regardless of their perceived involvement or consent. The responsibility and blame lie with the exploiter.

Signs to look out for

Children undergoing sexual abuse often exhibit signs indicative of trauma. Some prevalent indicators suggesting a child might be a victim of sexual exploitation include:

  1. Behavioral Changes: Sudden shifts in behavior, mood swings, or regression to younger behaviors.
  2. Sleep Disruptions: Nightmares, night sweats, or other sleep disturbances.
  3. Fear of Specific People or Places: An inexplicable fear of certain individuals or avoidance of particular locations.
  4. Changes in School Performance: Drastic drops in grades or unexplained absences.
  5. Sexualized Behavior: Engaging in age-inappropriate or sexually explicit behaviors or language.
  6. Relationship Patterns: Having older boyfriends or girlfriends or new relationships with significantly older individuals.
  7. Unexplained Items: Possession of money, clothes, or other items that they can’t explain.
  8. Substance Abuse: Use of drugs or alcohol, especially if it’s sudden or extreme.
  9. Self-harm or Suicidal Tendencies: Engaging in self-destructive behaviors or expressing thoughts of suicide.
  10. Physical Signs: Unexplained injuries, especially in the genital area, or sexually transmitted infections.
  11. Secrecy: Being unusually secretive, especially regarding their online activities.
  12. Withdrawal: Pulling away from friends, family, or previously enjoyed activities.
  13. Depression or Anxiety: Exhibiting signs of depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues.

It’s essential to understand that the presence of one or more of these indicators doesn’t conclusively prove that a child is being exploited, but they serve as warning signs that further investigation might be needed.

Reducing the risk of child sexual exploitation

When Hosts incorporate cameras into their properties, it’s imperative that these devices don’t surveil private areas, including bedrooms and bathrooms. Any cameras placed in shared spaces must be clearly communicated to guests to prevent unintended capturing of inappropriate images, especially of minors. Furthermore, Hosts should implement robust cybersecurity measures to reduce the risk of unauthorized access to cameras, ensuring the privacy and safety of children in the property.

For more details on how to prevent child sexual exploitation, you can check out educational materials from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, ECPAT-USA, and the International Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

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