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Report child sexual exploitation

Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is when a child or young person is tricked into performing sexual acts. It can happen to both boys and girls.

A child or young person may think they are in a loving relationship. They may get gifts, money, status and affection. They have been groomed.

Having gained the child or young person’s trust, the abuser controls and threatens them and may be violent towards them. The abuser may force the child or young person to have sex with other people and even make them groom other young people for sex.

The child or young person may trust their abuser and does not understand they are being abused, or may depend on their abuser and be too scared to tell anyone what is happening.

Signs of child sexual exploitation

  • Becoming especially secretive, stop seeing their usual friends, have really sharp, severe mood swings
  • Developing relationships with older men or women (although not all perpetrators are older)
  • Going missing from home and being reluctant to say where they have been or what they have been doing – staying out all night
  • Receiving calls and messages from outside their normal circle of friends
  • New, expensive items which they could not afford, such as mobile phones, iPods or jewellery – as well as ‘invisible’ or ‘virtual’ gifts such as phone credit and online gaming credits
  • Suddenly changing their taste in dress or music
  • Looking tired or unwell and sleeping at unusual hours
  • Marks or scars on their body which they try to hide
  • Regularly missing school
  • 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 child sexual exploitation

Child in immediate danger

Call 999 immediately if you know or suspect a child is in immediate danger.

Report child sexual exploitation

Information about a suspected vulnerable or exploited person

If you are in a profession such as a teacher or social worker, you may be exposed to certain situations which you feel the police should be aware of concerning vulnerable people.

If you believe a child or young person is vulnerable or being exploited, you can use this form to provide information to the police.

Child sexual exploitation victim support

Read our guidance for victims of child sexual exploitation.

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