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Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)

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

Child sexual exploitation can happen to anyone under the age of 18 and it is often a hidden crime. Young people may trust their abuser and don't understand that they are being abused or may depend on their abuser and be too scared to tell anyone what's happening.

Signs of child sexual exploitation

  • Going missing for periods of time, or regularly returning home late
  • Regularly missing school, or not taking part in education
  • Receiving expensive gifts 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

Child sexual exploitation online

When sexual exploitation happens online, young people may be persuaded or forced to:

  • send or post sexually explicit images of themselves
  • take part in sexual activities via a webcam or smartphone
  • have sexual conversations by text or online

Report it

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:

You can also report suspected child sexual exploitation:

Help and support

Visit the following organisation's websites for further help and support:

  • Barnardo's
    Children’s charity Barnardo’s, supports children and families affected by issues such as sexual exploitation and domestic abuse.

    The NSPCC provide a wide range of services for both children and adults, including national helplines for 24/7 help and advice.
  • Thinkuknow
    A 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.

Related documents

  • PDF icon Working with the Police- The Role of Parents in Investigating Child Sexual Exploitation
    Last updated: 23 December 2016