What is child sexual exploitation (CSE)?
Sexual exploitation is a type of child abuse. It puts a young person at huge risk of damage to their physical, emotional and psychological health.
CSE involves young people and children being 'groomed' and sexually exploited. It can take many forms, such as through an apparently 'consensual' relationship with an older person or a young person having sex in return for attention, gifts, cigarettes or alcohol.
Parents and carers should be aware of the risk of exploitation brought by the Internet. The most important aspect in protecting children from online threats is direct communication by discussing with them their online behaviours and preferences and informing about safe online behaviour. In addition to that, there are software tools that help to protect children from online threats known as ‘parental control tools’.
Many young people who are being exploited do not realise they are at risk and will not ask for help. Some may see themselves as willing participants in such abuse, not realising that what is happening to them is illegal.
There are warning signs that may indicate something is wrong. If you know what you're looking for, you can take steps to help them.
Signs to look out for:
- Has the young person received unexplained gifts or money?
- Do they use their mobile phone excessively and/or secretively?
- Do they have significantly older friends?
- Have they been picked up from home or school by someone you don't know?
- Are they associating with other young people who are already known to be vulnerable or involved in exploitation?
- Have they started playing truant from school or regularly going missing from home?
- Have they suffered from a sexually-transmitted infection?
- Are they self-harming?
- Has their appearance changed?
Information and resources for parents
Pace – Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation - Pace takes referrals directly from parents. If you are worried about child sexual exploitation happening to your son or daughter, get in touch. Someone from their parent support team will be in touch to discuss the help and information Pace could offer. paceuk.info or call 0113 240 5226
NWG – NWG’s principal objective is to offer support and advice to those working with children and young people under eighteen who are affected by abuse through sexual exploitation. nwgnetwork.org or call 01332 585371.
NSPCC – Any adult worried about a child can contact our trained helpline practitioners for 24/7 help, advice and support. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0808 800 5000. For more information about child sexual exploitation visit https://www.nspcc.org.uk/cse
CEOP - CEOP helps to keep children and young people safe online. CEOP helps thousands of children and young people every year who have been in a similar situation to you. https://ceop.police.uk/safety-centre/
Barnardo’s – barnardos.org.uk
Safer Internet Programme - resource for parents which provides tools to protect children online
Missing People Helpline - call 116000 for confidential help and advice for young people who have concerns about themselves or other people.
Devon and Cornwall Police - Child Sexual Exploitation web page
Children’s Services - If you would prefer not to contact police you can contact Children’s Services in your area:
- Devon Tel: 0345 155 1071 or email MASH and give as much information as you can. Out of hours: 0845 6000388.
- Cornwall Tel: 0300 123 1116 or email MARU. Out of hours: 01208 251 300.
- Torbay Tel: 01803 208100 or email Torbay Safeguarding Hub.
- Plymouth Tel: 01752 308600. Out of hours: 01752 346784
Local Children’s Safeguarding Boards:
Devon: Devon Safeguarding Children
Cornwall and Isles of Scilly: Safe Children - Safeguarding Children Board
Torbay: Torbay Safeguarding
Plymouth: Plymouth Safeguarding Children Board
Barnardos Real Love Rocks, the online space all about raising awareness around Child Sexual Exploitation and what a healthy and safe relationship is.