Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE): Information for Young People
Child Sexual Exploitation is a form of sexual abuse that involves young people under the age of 18 being pressured or tricked into sexual activity. This abuse involves exploiting you through power and being manipulated or forced into taking part in sexual activities, often in exchange for attention, affection, money, drugs, alcohol or gifts.
You might believe that they are in a loving and consensual relationship with the individual, and may trust them, so you might not feel you are being abused. This is known as grooming.
Often older men or women may:
show you a lot of interest and affection and make you feel special
take you and your friends back to their houses, or to parties
offer you drugs, alcohol and/or a place to chill out
buy you presents like clothes, a mobile phone, or money to buy alcohol and cigarettes
Once they’ve gained your trust and affection, things change
They will ask for sexual favours for themselves or other people, in return for alcohol, drugs, presents, money – all the things they started giving for free
They stop being nice and can become threatening or violent
Some of the visible signs you or someone you know is in trouble could include:
Having an older boyfriend / girlfriend
Hanging out with new older friends
Staying out late or going missing from home and school for periods of time
Being bought nice presents or given food, money, drink, cigarettes or drugs
Being secretive about what they’re doing and who they’re with
Spending increasing amounts of time talking secretly with new ‘friends’ online
Receiving calls/texts from strangers asking to meet up
Misusing drugs or alcohol
Accepting lifts from people you don’t know
A sudden change in behaviour – becoming aggressive and disruptive, or quiet and withdrawn
Sound like anyone you know? If you’re worried about a friend, talk to them, make them feel safe and not embarrassed. If they don’t want to talk to you, talk to someone you trust, preferably an adult.
When you think of the term “abuse” you may visualise someone being physically or verbally violent, although this can definitely play a part in child sexual exploitation, the abuse can often be much less obvious.
The abuser (who you might think of as a friend, partner or family member) may control and manipulate you without you realising by trying to isolate you from your friends and family. They may regularly say negative things about others in your life in order to break up your relationships/friendships, making you more dependent on them.
Remember: If the abuser is giving you gifts (including affection), you may think that performing the sexual favours that they ask is a fair exchange, it isn’t!
If you need to report or talk to someone about the abuse you are receiving or that you believe another person is suffering, please contact one of the below services.
Childline is a national children's helpline, you can talk to us about anything. No problem is too big or too small. However you choose to contact us, you're in control. It’s confidential and you don’t have to give your name if you don’t want to.
ThinkUKnow is the education programme from CEOP, a UK organisation which protects children both online and offline.
CEOP Are you worried about online sexual abuse or the way someone has been communicating with you online? Make a report to one of CEOP's Child Protection Advisors
R-U Safe? Direct, one-to-one support to young people at risk of Sexual or Criminal Exploitation (CSE/CE)
Fearless to report crime anonymously
Gangsline for free advice and support from ex-gang members
Victim Support Anyone affected by crime in England or Wales can contact us for free, confidential support. If you live in Scotland or Northern Ireland, you can contact Victim Support Scotland or Victim Support NI for help
The National Working Group Exploitation Response Unit (NWGR) to report abuse to specially trained members of the NWGR
Buckinghamshire Council's First Response Helpline - If you have any concerns about the safeguarding of a child, as a professional or a member of the public, you can report this online. If you're a member of the public you have the option to remain anonymous.
If you have found out that your child has been sexually exploited, it can be very distressing and hard to know what you should do next. A child that is a victim of CSE, often trusts the individual that abused them and are unable to tell they are being abused.
If you are worried about your child or a young person exhibiting any of the signs of CSE, there is help for you and your family.
Talk through your concerns with a number of organisations that are ready to help you:
Parents Protect: Child Sexual Abuse Help
Advice and support to help parents and carers protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation
Child Sexual Exploitation: How to Get Help (Thames Valley)
Advice from Thames Valley Police on how to spot CSE
Spot The Signs (Barnardo’s)
Barnardo’s have been supporting sexually exploited children for more than 20 years. Talk to trained counsellors on the 24-hour helplines run by Childline on 0800 11 11 and the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000.
Parents Against Child Exploitation (PACE)
Pace works alongside parents and carers of children who are – or are at risk of being – exploited by perpetrators external to the family. PACE offer guidance and training to professionals on how child exploitation affects the whole family.
Every Child Protected Against Trafficking
Every Child Protected Against Trafficking (ECPAT UK) is a leading children's rights organisation working to protect children from trafficking and transnational exploitation. We support children everywhere to uphold their rights and to live a life free from abuse and exploitation.
To report sexual exploitation:
- Call 999 if the child is at immediate risk
- Call 101 if you think a crime has been committed
- Call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online.