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Child Sexual Exploitation

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)

"Catch 22" provide services to children and young people who have been exploited or who may be exploited.
Contact details: call 01782 237106 or email

Voice box, Childline’s weekly video chat, features Lucy Fallon who plays Bethany Platt in Coronation Street and Helen, a Childline counsellor, talking about grooming. They give advice on how to spot the signs of grooming and how young people can get support if they are worried that they or a friend are being groomed.
Source: YouTube Date: 07 June 2017 Further information: Childline

"Know About Child Sexual Exploitation" (CSE) is a local website that gives you information on how to Spot the Signs and Report CSE. Real stories are shared to highlight how CSE can exist and affects lives. (Click on the link)

What is CSE?
Child sexual exploitation is when someone persuades and controls a child for a sexual purpose. It can happen to boys and girls, it can happen face to face and it can happen online. It is a form of child abuse and we need to stop it happening.  The exploiter very often uses presents such as mobile phones, money, drugs, alcohol and a feeling that they are special to persuade the child to do sex acts. This is called grooming.

CSE can happen in different ways:
It can take place face to face or online. It can include contact and non-contact sexual activities, including the production and distribution of sexual images or exposure to indecent images.

Sexual exploitation through street grooming can include:

  • Taking children and young people to different places in the UK to sexually abuse them - we call this ‘trafficking’,
  • Some children and young people are brought into the UK from other countries so that they can be sexually abused
  • Using the threat of violence, drugs and alcohol to control and giving money or presents in payment for someone to have sex with a child (also referred to as child prostitution)

 Online sexual exploitation can include:

  • grooming children online for the purpose of sexually abusing them. This might involve an adult pretending to be a child, befriending the child through online chat rooms, social networking websites, emails, mobile telephone messaging, gaining their trust, stalking their online activities
  • asking children to engage in sexual chats online or by mobile telephone
  • asking children to take and share indecent photos of themselves
  • asking children to perform sexual acts that are recorded or shared live via webcam
  • arranging to meet a child in person for the purpose of sexually abusing them.

Kayleigh’s Love Story - is a film about aspects of the last 13 days of the life of 15-year-old Kayleigh Haywood. Please note that if the film was to be shown in British cinemas it would have a 15 age certificate. The film highlights a warning to children and adults of the dangers of grooming and sexual exploitation following Kayleigh’s tragic death in November 2015.

Who are particularly vulnerable and at risk?

  • runaway or homeless children and children who are in care
  • children who have already suffered abuse or neglect
  • children who don’t go to school because they have been excluded or they are regularly absent from school
  • children from black and minority ethnic communities
  • children from migrant communities
  • refugee children and unaccompanied asylum seeking children
  • trafficked children
  • children with mental health conditions
  • children who use drugs and alcohol
  • children with learning difficulties and disabilities
  • children involved with gangs or living in communities where gangs are a way of life
  • children from families who have a history of offending behaviour
  • children living in poverty

The following list highlights some of the common signs which can help parents and professionals in identifying children or young people who may be victims of sexual exploitation:

  • unexplained gifts such as unaffordable new things like designer clothes and mobile phones
  • sudden use of drugs and alcohol
  • going missing, running away, becoming homeless
  • not going to school, or playing truant which then leads to being excluded
  • repeatedly needing treatment for sexually transmitted infections
  • girls who have repeat pregnancies, abortions and miscarriages
  • behaving in an inappropriate sexual way
  • associating with older men
  • hanging out with groups of older people, anti-social groups, other vulnerable peers
  • unexplained changes in behaviour or personality (chaotic, aggressive, sexual)
  • getting involved in abusive relationships
  • having contact with known perpetrators
  • self-harming, suicide attempts, overdosing, eating disorders
  • injuries from physical assault, physical restraint, sexual assault
  • getting into/out of different cars
  • seen at known places of concern

It is not the case that a number of signs mean that a child or young person is a victim of sexual exploitation. The more signs, however, the greater the risk of sexual exploitation.

Difficulties in identifying victims

  • Children who have been sexually exploited by organised crime gangs won’t tell because they are frightened of what would happen to them if they ‘told’.
  • Young people don’t always see themselves as victims. They may believe their abuser is their boyfriend and loves them.
  • The child's friends may all be in the same situation, under the control of an abuser or part of the gang who is exploiting them. There may be nowhere for the child to go to escape their abusers.
  • They may be dependent on the things they receive such as money, drugs, alcohol, and accommodation. 

Useful links

How do I know if I'm being groomed?   NSPCC has a PANTS song and animation to help protect children from sexual abuse. You can view this on the NSPCC website  You can also see it on YouTube

P – Privates are private
A – Always remember your body belongs to you
N – No means no
T – Talk about secrets that upset you
S - Speak up, someone can help.

The NSPCC have a series of short animated films dealing with child sexual exploitation - click on the links

Grange Park SARC - Sexual Assault Referral Centre
Staffordshire SARC is at the Cobridge Community Health Centre Church Terrace Stoke-on-Trent ST6 2JN
Adults who want to speak to someone about accessing the SARC can call the Self-referral line which is available 24 hours a day. The self-referral line will take the client through to our call centre where a trained call handler will re-direct the call as required.

The Self-referral Line is 0800 970 0372

Related Files:

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