The types of sexual exploitation of children are not reducible to a common denominator; they differ in severity and in significance. Children may be the victims of sexual violence, rape, seduction or intimate fondling by adults or other children. In certain tribes fondling by adults as a form of masturbation is common and socially accepted, but in more sophisticated societies sexual exploitation of children is usually unacceptable because of the risk of their adverse sexual development. The identification of assailants (usually male) is often complicated by secrecy on the part of children and parents and the adoption of a very 'respectable' demeanour by the assailant himself.
Whether in Barcelona, Bombay, Macau, Singapore, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Paris, Marseilles, New York, Mexico City or other cities, the market for pornography, with the help of video techniques, has provided a very extensive scope for expansion of the exploitation of the sexuality of children, which is finding increasing outlets in Europe and North America, and more recently in the oil-producing countries. In 1989 there were increasing reports of national and international networks specializing in the overlapping concerns of child pornography and procurement of children for sex or for ritualistic sexual abuse. Evidence exists for an international child abuse network based in Amsterdam, involving senior politicians, head teachers, lawyers, and child care professionals. There are many reports in the UK of child abuse in assessment centres, secure units and children's homes. There are also many examples of those responsible for such units procuring children in their care for abuse by others. In the UK an allegation by one boy led to the discovery of 643 offences against 45 children.