Sexual abuse of a child happens when children are used for the sexual gratification of an adult, older adolescent, or someone else in a position of authority over the child. Sexual exploitation is a form of sexual abuse that occurs when a child engages in sexual activity, usually through manipulation or coercion, in exchange for items, such as money, drugs, food, or shelter.
Children who are sexually exploited are not prostitutes or criminals, but victims of abuse. Sexual exploitation may lead to life-long illness and disability. Most individuals affected by sexual abuse and exploitation require professional intervention from physicians and mental health professionals to aid in their recovery.