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Child sexual exploitation

Child sexual exploitation

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If a child is either encouraged or forced to take part in a sexual act, often in return for affection, drugs, alcohol or a place to stay, it’s sexual exploitation or Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE).

It can happen to any young person from any background and they can be targeted by abusers in person or online, using technology such as webcams and picture sharing platforms.

Most victims don’t realise they’re being exploited.

Examples of case studies

Spot the signs of CSE

Whether you're a parent, you work with young people or you're concerned a child is at risk, there are a number of signs you can look out for: 

  • Unexplained gifts or expensive items, such as clothes or mobiles 
  • Drug or alcohol use 
  • Bruises or marks on the body 
  • Contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Regularly going missing or running away 
  • Missing school or not taking part in class 
  • Often seen getting in or out of different vehicles  
  • Changes in behaviour, for example aggressive, defensive, mood swings 
  • Inappropriate sexual behaviour like being over familiar with strangers or sexting 
  • Changes in appearance such as losing weight, malnourished 
  • Hanging out with anti-social groups, gangs, known criminals and/or fighting 
  • Having relationships and friendships with older people   
  • Involved in abusive relationships, feeling fearful of certain people.

Help and support

If you're concerned a child is already suffering or is likely to be harmed, or if you're a young person worried about being sexually exploited, there are a number of organisations that can help depending on the circumstances:

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