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What is Child Sexual Exploitation?

Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a type of sexual abuse in which children are sexually exploited for money, power or status.

Some people form relationships with young people to use them for sex.

People who do this want young people to think they are a friend, boyfriend or girlfriend and may try to trick them into believing they’re in a loving, consensual relationship. They want to gain their trust. The young people might be invited to parties and given drugs and alcohol. They may also be groomed online. These people might also use bribes, threats, humiliation and even violence to get power over them. They can use that power to force them to have sex, or do sexual things, with them and sometimes with other people. This is sexual exploitation and it’s a crime.

It happens to boys and girls and can be really hard to spot. Often people think they’re in a good relationship, even after things have turned bad.

But there are warning signs. It’s really important that you know how to spot them so you can protect yourself and your friends.

Some children and young people are trafficked into or within the UK for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Sexual exploitation can also happen to young people in gangs.

Think U Know is a website which explains for children of your age what is classed as Child Sexual Exploitation. It has some really interesting videos and resources showing you how easy it is be exploited.

Myths about CSE

Q: Does child sexual exploitation only happen in certain ethnic or cultural communities?

A: Offenders and victims come from a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds, this crime is not restricted to a specific group.

Q: Only children in care are affected

A: A majority of victims live at home. Looked after children, account for a number of victims and can be particularly vulnerable.

Q: Only girls and women are affected

A: Boys, young men, girls and women are all targeted by CSE offenders. Male victims may be less likely to report incidents due to stigma, prejudice or embarrassment.

Q: Only men commit CSE crimes

A: Evidence shows that women can be offenders of this crime. They use different grooming methods but target both boys and girls.

Q: This only happens to young teenagers by young men?

A: Peer–on–peer child sexual exploitation happens too, and this can take many forms. For example young people recruit young people at parties – where they are introduced to adults or forced to perform sexual acts.

Q: Parents should know what their child is doing to be able to stop it

A: Parents may be unlikely to be able to identify what is happening. They may suspect something is not right but may not be in a position to stop it due to control, threats or fear.

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