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Child sexual exploitation

Child sexual exploitation is child abuse.

If you are concerned that a child is at risk of harm, contact Social Services.

To report your concerns, contact Social Services Swansea Single Point of Contact (SPOC)

In an emergency, contact the police on 101 or dial 999.


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. 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'.



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 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.

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.



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

If you have a concern, DON'T

  • delay; or
  • assume that someone else will notice and do something.
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