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Child Sexual Exploitation

Child Sexual Exploitation is Child Abuse

What is Child Sexual Exploitation?

It is the coercion or manipulation of children and young people into taking part in sexual activities.

It is a form of sexual abuse involving an exchange of some form of payment which can include; money, mobile phones and other items, drugs, alcohol, a place to stay, 'protection' or affection

The vulnerability of the young person and grooming process employed by perpetrators renders them powerless to recognise the exploitative nature of relationships and unable to give informed consent

Children and young people do not volunteer to be sexually exploited and they cannot consent to their own abuse. This applies as much to young people aged 16 and 17 as it does to younger children.  It can happen to girls and boys.

Online Child Sexual Exploitation is where perpetrators deceive, coerce and manipulate children into producing and sharing indecent images of themselves or engaging in sexual chat or sexual activity over a webcam/s. However Online Child Sexual Exploitation can also move on to the perpetrator meeting a child in the 'real world' to engage in actual sexual acts; this is sometimes called offline offending.    

CSE poster - picture of boy

SPOT IT! - Possible signs of Child Sexual Exploitation

It is important that anyone can spot the possible signs that a child is being - or may be at risk of  being - sexually exploited. 

Significant signs include:

  • periods of going missing overnight or longer
  • older 'boyfriend'/ 'girlfriend'/relationship with controlling adult
  • physical/emotional abuse by that 'boyfriend'/'girlfriend'/controlling adult
  • entering/leaving vehicles driven by unknown adults
  • unexplained amounts of money, expensive clothing or other items
  • frequenting areas known for on or off street sexual exploitation
  • physical injury without plausible explanation
  • disclosure of sexual/physical assault followed by withdrawal of allegation
  • peers involved in clipping (receiving payment in exchange for agreement to perform sexual acts but not performing the sexual act)/sexual exploitation

Other signs include:

  • staying out late
  • multiple callers (unknown adults/older young people)
  • use of a mobile phone that causes concern
  • expressions of despair (self-harm, overdose, eating disorder, challenging behaviour, aggression)
  • sexually transmitted infections
  • drugs misuse
  • alcohol misuse
  • use of the internet that causes concern
  • unsuitable/inappropriate accommodation (including street homelessness)
  • isolated from peers/social networks
  • lack of positive relationship with a protective/nurturing adult
  • exclusion from school or unexplained absences from or not engaged in school/college/training
  • living independently and failing to respond to attempts by worker to keep in touch

PDF Document Print out the possible signs of Child Sexual Exploitation (PDF, 126KB)Opens new window

Children and young people may not recognise that they are being sexually exploited or even if they do realise what is happening, they may not feel able to tell anybody. 

REPORT IT!  -  What to do if you have a concern

If you are concerned that a child is at immediate risk of harm from child sexual exploitation:

  • Call the POLICE on 999

If you are concerned that a child is at risk of sexual exploitation or suffering from exploitation:

  • At work, speak to your lead professional for child protection - if your organisation has one or
  • In any other situation, contact the Children's Central, Advice, Referral and Assessment Team on 01792 635700 who can provide advice, information and assistance.

If you have a concern, DON'T

  • Delay
  • Assume that someone else will notice and do something

More information

Welsh Government and Barnardos have produced a guide for children and young people about Child Sexual Exploitation called Sexual Exploitation - Sex, Secrets and Lies -Your Guide.  This could also be useful to anyone who would like key information about Child Sexual Exploitation.  Download a copy from Barnardos websiteOpens new window

Policies and procedures for people in Wales that work with or come into contact with children, young people and their families. 

CSE poster - picture of girl

Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre - internet safety - CEOPOpens new window

Website with a lot of information and advice for parents, children and professionals about online child sexual exploitation and online safety

Other useful links can be found on our Advice, Information and Support for Families pages.


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