Child sexual exploitation

What is Child Sexual Exploitation?

Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a type of sexual abuse in which children are sexually exploited for money, power or status.

Children or young people may be tricked into believing they're in a loving, consensual relationship. They might be invited to parties and given drugs and alcohol. They may also be groomed online. The abuser may physically or verbally threaten the young person or be violent towards them. They will control and manipulate them and try to isolate them from friends and family. It happens to boys and young men as well as girls and young women. Abusers are very clever in the way they manipulate and take advantage of the young people they abuse.

Some children and young people are trafficked into or within the UK for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

Know the signs

Even something that seems like normal teenage behaviour could be a sign that a child is being exploited.

These can include:

  • Increasing or secretive mobile phone or other devise use
  • Excessive amount of time online and being secretive about time online
  • A significantly older ‘boyfriend’ or ‘friend’ or lots of new friends
  • Change in behaviour – becoming secretive, argumentative, aggressive, disruptive, quiet, withdrawn
  • Having unexplained gifts or new possessions such as clothes, jewellery, mobile phones or having money or access to other goods such as alcohol that can’t be accounted for
  • Regularly missing from home or school, for unexplained periods of time and or staying out late or all night.

What can I do as a parent or carer?

It is important to discuss with children the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships to help highlight potential risks to them. There are also a number of practical steps you can take to protect your child:

  • Staying alert to changes in behaviour or any physical signs of abuse such as bruising.
  • Being aware of new, unexplained gifts or possessions such as clothes, jewellery, mobile phones or having money or access to other goods such as alcohol that can't be accounted for.
  • Carefully monitoring any episodes of staying out late or not returning home.
  • Exercising caution around older friends your child may have, or relationships with other young people where there appears to be a power imbalance.
  • Making sure you understand the risks associated with your child being on-line and putting measures in place to minimise these risks.

Exploitation can be hard to recognise, it's important you spot the signs that it's happening.

If a child is in immediate danger call 999.

If your concern is not an emergency you can contact the police on 101.