Child sexual exploitation

What is Child Sexual Exploitation?

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) is a type of child abuse. It happens when a young person is encouraged, or forced, to take part in sexual activity in exchange for something.

  • The reward might be presents, money, alcohol, or simply emotional attention.
  • It can happen to any child or young person.
  • It might seem like a normal friendship or relationship to begin with.
  • It can happen online or offline, and without the young person being aware of it.

Who does it happen to?

  • Any young person can be a victim of child sexual exploitation
  • It can happen to boys as well as girls
  • It can happen to young people of all races and backgrounds
  • Young people experiencing problems at home who go missing or are in care can be vulnerable and particularly at risk, but child sexual exploitation can also happen to those from a loving, supportive home

How does it happen?

Sexual exploitation can be hard to recognise because often it feels like that you are in a good relationship with the person - or people - who abuse your trust in them. It could be that you are being exploited by a friend or group of friends, or someone who you think of as a boyfriend or girlfriend or it might be a person or group of people you’ve only just got to know, either in person or online.

Often people who exploit you are nice to you, your friends and family; they might buy you things including alcohol or drugs, they might listen to your problems, take you to great places, be there for you and they might give you a place to stay when you’re having problems.

Anyone who persuades you to have sex with them or other people, or encourages you to post sexual images of yourself via text or on the internet, in return for the things that they have given you, such as drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, money, food, accommodation or affection, is sexually exploiting you, even if you don’t always feel like they are.

If what you are being asked or forced to do makes you feel uncomfortable or worried in some way or somehow feels wrong then remember it probably is.

Where can you find help?

If you are worried about a situation that you or a friend are in, talk to an adult that you trust as soon as you can. Remember, if you are in immediate danger or want urgent help, contact the police on 999.

More information