Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)
What is Child Sexual Exploitation?
Child Sexual Exploitation is a form of sexual abuse that involves the manipulation and/or coercion of young people under the age of 18 into sexual activity in exchange for things such as money, gifts, accommodation, affection, or status.
Child sexual exploitation can occur through use of technology without the child’s immediate recognition, for example the persuasion to post sexual images on the internet/mobile phones with no immediate payment or gain.
The young person may think the abuser is their friend, or even their boyfriend or girlfriend. The abuser may or may not use violence, but they will control and manipulate their victim, trying to isolate them from friends and family. The child or young person often do not recognise the coercive nature of the relationship, do not see themselves as a victim of exploitation or see the power perpetrators have over their victims. Abusers can be very clever in the way they manipulate, groom and take advantage of young people. This can happen to boys as well as girls
What are the signs?
It can be difficult to recognise the warning signs of child sexual exploitation, as they are similar to the challenges that all parents/carers of adolescent or near-adolescent children face.
- Is the young person regularly missing from home or care?
- Do they have physical injuries?
- Are they taking drugs or misusing alcohol?
- Are they withdrawn from their family?
- Have they had repeated sexually transmitted infections or pregnancies?
- Are they regularly absent from school?
- Are they regularly offending?
- Have they received gifts from unknown sources?
- Are they self harming?
- Is there evidence of sexual bullying?
- Are they experiencing mental health problems?
- Have they attempted suicide?
- Do they have a significantly older ‘boyfriend/girlfriend?
- Is there evidence of online abuse through the internet and social networking sites?
- Had a recent bereavement?
- Are they entering/leaving cars unknown adults or taxi drivers
- Are they receiving odd calls and messages on their mobiles or social media
- Have had a sudden change in dressing patterns or musical taste
- Look tired and/or unwell, and sleep at unusual hours
What is the impact of child sexual exploitation?
The impact of CSE will affect young people’s physical, emotional and mental health and those in their families. It can be difficult for parents/carers to understand why young people return to their abusers and sometimes have loyalty to their abusers. However, it may be:
- Dependent on the things they receive such as money, drugs, alcohol, and accommodation.
- Feeling ashamed or embarrassed about what is happening or what has happened to them
- Friends may all be in the same situation, under the control of an abuser or part of the network who is exploiting them. Nowhere to go to escape their abusers.
- Fearful for their safety even after being removed from the exploitative situation.
- Find it very challenging to form trusting relationships with adults.
- Not seeing themselves as victims believing their abuser is their boyfriend and loves them
- In gangs, there may be the belief that the abuse is normal and a rite of passage.
- Threatened with violence if they disclose or their family may be threatened with violence
What is grooming?
This is the ‘behaviour’ used by predators (both Men and Women) to prepare people, particularly young people, for sexual exploitation. The number of incidents being reported to the Police has grown in the last year. Grooming is the befriending of young people and gaining their trust. It can be subtle, drawn out, controlling, calculated and pre-meditated and often is very difficult to recognise. Online grooming can be more rapid. It is vital that predators have access to people, particularly young people, so will frequent locations where there is little or no adult supervision. Although it is usually girls it happens to, it can happen to boys as well and any social class, ethnicity, or religion. Groomers are very clever and manipulative. For full explanation go to:
Child Sexual Exploitation Resources
Two recommended novels, both real experiences, which explore CSE:
'If you read the papers, you'd think that the only girls to get hooked are from dysfunctional families. But what happened to me could happen to anyone. Your child, your sister, your friend - even yourself if you are young and naive enough, like I was'
Emma was just 13 when her happy childhood came crashing down. A nice girl from a good home, she had no idea the young lads she and her friends met every Saturday in the shopping mall weren't all they seemed. The boys were part of an organised child sexual exploitation gang targeting innocent young girls, grooming them for prostitution. Captivated by the ring leader, and the alcohol and drugs he freely handed round, Emma didn't see the first brutal rape coming. From that moment, her life was never her own.
Emma found herself drawn into a trap of degradation and violence, frightened for her life and not knowing where to turn. But Exploited is also the story of how she found the courage and inner strength to risk everything, and escape.
Emma talks candidly about how she was groomed – and how she is trying to help the growing number of others being picked out for a similar fate.
Websites for further information on CSE
- CEOP works across the UK and maximises international links to tackle child sex abuse; includes information and advice for parents, news, and a facility to report abuse. www.ceop.police.uk
- PACE (Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation) offers help, information and advice for families affected by CSE. www.paceuk.info
- NSPCC Information for Professionals on CSE
- Barnardos works with children who have been victims of CSE
- sexual exploitation
- Scottish CSE website. Has separate parents/carers
- sexual exploitation. See me - Hear me