Child Sexual Exploitation – CSE

This page outlines the risk factors and potential warning signs for young people and their carers

What is CSE

Child sexual exploitation is a form of child sexual abuse. It occurs where an individual or a group uses an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into sexual activity.

The victim may have been sexually exploited even if the sexual activity appears consensual. Child sexual exploitation does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur using technology.

Child sexual exploitation is never the young person’s fault, even when they ‘agree’ to the sexual activity.

Who is at risk of CSE

Child sexual exploitation can happen anyone male or female from any background. Perpetrators can be men, women, or your peers.


Grooming involves the perpetrator building a relationship, trust and power over the young person for the purpose of abuse.

Young people can be groomed online or face to face or both. Young people who are groomed can be exploited, sexually abused or trafficked.

What is grooming – advise from NCPCC

What is sexting?

Taking nude photos of yourself and your partner may seem exciting and just a bit of fun, but once you send the video or image of yourself to another person you have lost control of that image and what happens next.

The person you share that image with can then share this image or video with others.

Sexting - Is it legal

If you are under 18 and you take a video or photo of yourself – you have created a indecent image of a child

If you send this image or video to another person, even if it is your partner, you have shared an indecent image of a child.

If you are the partner who receives the image/video you are now in possession of an indecent image of a child.

If you are under 18 sending and receiving a nude photo is against the law.

Sexting and sending nudes | Childline

Am I a victim of exploitation?

You may be a victim of exploitation if any of the below happen in your relationship

  • If you ever been made to feel scared or uncomfortable by the person/s you have been having sexual contact with?
  • If you ever been made to do something sexual that you didn’t want to do, or been intimidated?
  • If you feel you cannot say no to sex?
  • Offering you gifts, money, drugs, alcohol, or protection in exchange for sex
  • If you have been asked to take sexual pictures of yourself and share them with others by text or online.
  • Threaten to share pictures of you if you dont carry out sexual acts
  • Invite you to parties offering you free drugs and alcohol and then expect you to have sex with other people at the party in return for this
  • Asking for to have sex with you while other people are in the same room

Signs for parents and carers

If not always easy to tell if something is wrong, but if your child is showing a combination of these changes, it could be an indicator that something is wrong.

  • Low mood/depression
  • Self-harm
  • Change in physical appearance  – inappropriate dressing
  • Avoiding spending time with family members
  • Changes in behavior
  • Not going to school or not doing as well at school
  • Staying out late or not coming home at all
  • Always tired
  • Getting into cars with unknown adults
  • New older friends
  • Having a much older boyfriend or girlfriend
  • Unexplained injuries
  • Drinking alcohol or taking drugs
  • Unexplained expensive gifts such as expensive clothes or new phones
  • Unexplained money

Where can CSE happen

  • Online
  • Anywhere where young people congregate such as: fairgrounds, takeaways, cafes, parks, shopping centres or cinemas
  • Hotels
  • Taxi ranks



Where to get help

Child sexual exploitation (CSE) | Barnardo’s (

Child Sexual Exploitation: What it is and how to get help – Brook

Child Sexual Exploitation & How to Keep Your Child Safe | NSPCC

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