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Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)

Sexual exploitation is child abuse. Victims are manipulated or forced into taking part in a sexual act often in return for attention, affection, money, drugs, alcohol or accommodation.

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) can happen to any young person from any background. It happens to boys and young men as well as girls and young women.

Children and young people do not become involved voluntarily – they are forced into the situation by abusive adults or peers who present themselves as their ‘friend’ or ‘boyfriend’.

Young people may be targeted by abusers online or in person.

Signs of child sexual exploitation

Children and young people that are the victims of sexual exploitation often do not recognise that they are being exploited.

However, there are a number of tell-tale signs that a child may be being groomed for sexual exploitation. These include:

  • Going missing for periods of time or regularly returning home late
  • Regularly missing school or not taking part in education
  • Acquiring expensive gifts such as mobile phones, jewellery – even drugs – and not being able to explain how they came by them
  • Having older boyfriends or girlfriends
  • Bruises, marks on the body, suffering from sexually transmitted infections, drug and alcohol misuse, self-harming
  • Associating with other young people involved in exploitation
  • Mood swings or changes in emotional well being, becoming secretive, defensive or aggressive when asked about their personal life
  • Displaying inappropriate sexualised behaviour

Report it

Important: If you know or suspect a child is in immediate danger, you should dial 999 straight away.

If you suspect a child may be at risk, or have any information relating to Child Sexual Exploitation, we would prefer to speak to you on the phone (by calling us on 101) or in person.

Please talk to the police, you will be listened to and taken seriously and we will do everything we can to help you.

Help and support

If you would like further information about Child Sexual Exploitation, or if you need advice or support, you can use the following contacts:

  • Barnardo’s
    Children’s charity Barnardo’s support children and families affected by issues such as sexual exploitation and domestic abuse. Every year thousands of children across the UK are affected by sexual exploitation. The internet and mobile devices make it even easier for adults to trick vulnerable children. Barnardo’s free guide tells you how to spot when a child is at risk, and help keep them safe. To get your free guide and learn how to spot the signs text SAFE to 82727 or call 0800 038 2531. You’ll be charged one text message or call at your standard network rate.

    The NSPCC provide a wide range of services for both children and adults, including national helplines staffed by trained helpline counsellors for 24/7 help and advice. 0800 1111 (ChildLine), 0808 800 5000 (Support for parents and carers)

  • Thinkuknow
    The Thinkuknow website for children and young people. Gives honest and frank advice on topics including sex and relationships, and the internet.

  • CEOP safety centre
    If someone has acted inappropriately online towards you, a child or young person, or someone you know, find out what to do, and how to report it to police, by visiting the CEOP safety centre.

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