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- Change in behaviour – becoming secretive, argumentative, aggressive, disruptive, quiet, withdrawn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.
Keep Them Safe - Free Online Resource
Keep them safe is a free online learning tool from Pace and Virtual College which has been accessed by more than 29,000 parents and professionals (as of March 2016).
Although the course is aimed at parents, safeguarding professionals will also find this 20-30 minute e-learning training course a valuable source of information to:
- find out more about child sexual exploitation
- learn the signs and indicators of when a child might be being exploited
- understand the impact child sexual exploitation can have on families
- know what to do if you suspect a child might be at risk of this abuse.
View further information from 'Pace' - Parents against child exploitation
Report a Concern
To report concerns about a child in RCT call:
01443 425 006
To report concerns about an adult at risk in RCT call:
01443 425 003
To report concerns in Merthyr Tydfil call:
01685 725 000
To report concerns about adults at risk in Bridgend call:
To report concerns about children at risk in Bridgend call:
Emergency Out of hours contact number:
01443 743 665