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Safeguarding: Child Sexual Exploitation

Child Sexual Exploitation

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) is a form of sexual abuse.

It occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a young person into sexual activity

a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or

b) for the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator.

CSE can be a one-off occurrence or a series of incidents over time and range from opportunistic to complex organised abuse. Children can be exploited by adult males or females, as individuals or in groups. They may also be exploited by other children, who themselves may be experiencing exploitation – where this is the case, it is important that the child perpetrator is also recognised as a victim.

Whilst the age of the child may be a contributing factor for an imbalance of power, there are a range of other factors that could make a child more vulnerable to exploitation, including, sexual identity, cognitive ability, learning difficulties, communication ability, physical strength, status, and access to economic or other resources.

Like all forms of child sexual abuse, CSE can/may:

  • Affect any young person under the age of 18 years
  • Still be abuse, even if the young person appears to consent
  • Take place in person and/or via technology
  • Involve force, enticement or blackmail
  • Be accompanied by threats of violence or actual violence
  • Be perpetrated by individuals or groups, males or females, other children or adults
  • Be a one-off or a series of incidents over time.

Some of the following signs may be possible indicators of CSE:

  • Unexplained money, gifts or new possessions
  • Associating with other young people involved in exploitation
  • Relationships with older boyfriends or girlfriends
  • Changes in emotional well-being
  • Drugs and alcohol misuse
  • Frequently missing from care, home or education
  • suffering from sexually transmitted infections, displaying sexual behaviours beyond expected sexual development or becoming pregnant.

Children who have been exploited will need additional support to help maintain them in education.