01733863744 pscb@peterborough.gov.uk

Sexual Exploitation of children and young people under 18 involves exploitative situations, contexts and relationships where young people (or a third person or persons) receive ‘something’ (e.g. food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, affection, gifts, money) as a result of them performing, and/or another or others performing on them, sexual activities

Safeguarding Children and Young People from Sexual Exploitation 2009

Department for Education

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.

Sexual exploitation can involve swapping sexual favours for drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, and other presents. Or it may be having sex for money with several adults. Young people may feel they must have sex because an adult gives them something, or because they feel threatened or frightened.

Some young people may want to have sex because they think the adult is their boyfriend or girlfriend. In reality they are being used for sex, and the ‘boyfriend’ or ‘girlfriend’ may pass them on to other people too. (Remember – sexual abusers can be women, as well as men.)

Sexual exploitation can also occur without any physical contact with children being groomed to post sexual images of themselves online or take part in sexual activities via webcam or smartphone.

Abusers and groomers are very manipulative and often a young person will not recognise that they are being sexually exploited

Sexual exploitation can happen to boys and young men as well as girls and young women. It can happen to a person of any background, race, ability, sexuality, and age.


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.

Spot the Signs

Sexual exploitation can be very difficult to identify. Warning signs can easily be mistaken for ‘normal’ teenage behaviour.


Going missing for periods of time or regularly coming home late


Regularly missing school or not taking part in education


Appearing with unexplained gifts or new possessions (often new mobile phones or SIM cards)


Having older boyfriends or girlfriends


Socialising with groups of older people, anti-social groups and other vulnerable young people


Suffering from sexually transmitted infections


Mood swings or changes in emotional wellbeing


Drug and alcohol misuse


Displaying inappropriate sexualised behaviour


Self-harming or eating disorders


Injuries from physical assault, physical restraint or sexual assault

Keep them safe: an interactive tool

Understand the issue of child sexual exploitation, know the signs and be equipped to act.

Parents against Child Sexual Exploitation (Pace) UK, in partnership with Virtual College, has launched an interactive online information package for parents on the signs of child sexual exploitation. This free tool is designed to equip parents with the information and knowledge to safeguard children from this abuse. Click here for more details

Parents against Child Sexual Exploitation (Pace) UK have produced books for parents of children who are being sexually exploited.

Other guides produced by Parents against Child Sexual Exploitation (Pace) UK can be found at the following link http://www.paceuk.info/support-for-parents/advice-centre/

Have a concern? Make a referral