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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 (CSE) 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're 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

Important: 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 on the phone (by calling us on 101) or in person at a police station. To contact us online fill in the Report a crime or incident form.

Help and support


Children’s charity Barnardo’s support children and families affected by issues such as sexual exploitation and domestic abuse.

BASE (Barnardo's Against Sexual Exploitation) is a Barnardo’s project in Bristol which supports young people affected by child sexual exploitation.

Barnardos website


The NSPCC provide a wide range of services for both children and adults, including national helplines staffed by trained helpline counsellors for 24/7 help and advice.

0800 1111 (ChildLine)
0808 800 5000 (Support for parents and carers)

NSPCC website


A website for children and young people. Gives honest and frank advice on topics including sex and relationships, and the internet.

Thinkuknow website

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.

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