Child Sexual Exploitation - image oleg-ivanov

Child Exploitation

Child sexual and criminal exploitation are forms of child abuse. 

Young people often trust their abuser and don't know what is happening is wrong, or feel they are unable to tell anyone due to fear, inttimidation and violence. 

We all have a role to play to spot the signs and help keep children and young people safe.  

What is child sexual exploitation?

Child sexual exploitation (known as CSE for short) is a form of child abuse. It happens when a young person is manipulated or forced, to take part in sexual activity. The abuser works hard to groom the young person - it might seem like a normal friendship or relationship to begin with - gaining their trust and then exploiting that trust for their own gain. It can happen online or offline, and without the young person being aware of it. It may also involve more than one abuser and a number of victims.

What is child criminal exploitation? 

Child criminal exploitation (CCE) is child abuse where children and young people are manipulated and coerced into committing crimes. Victims can be made to feel special by being given gifts or money, or be very scared due to threats and violence.

Exploitation can be carried about by individuals or groups, males or females, other young people or adults. Even if the child or young person seems to be agreeing with it, it can still be exploitation.   

Who does it happen to?

Victims and perpetrators can be from any social or ethnic background. Any young person can be a victim - it can happen to boys as well as girls.  

Who does it?

Abusers are often very skilled in exploiting young people, using affection, attention, treats, alcohol, drugs or a just a place to stay.

Sometimes they may manipulate the young person into believing they are in a consensual relationship and that they love them. It is child abuse.

Victims face huge risks to their physical, emotional and psychological health.

What are we doing about CSE and Child Exploitation?

We are working with our partners and have developed a specialist team who are dedicated to safeguarding young people, working with individuals at risk, disrupting offenders and helping victims escape the cycle of abuse.

Spot the signs of exploitation

Spotting the signs of exploitation can be difficult to spot and sometimes mistaken for "normal" teenage behaviour. Knowing the signs can help you to protect children and young people, when they don't know who to turn to. 

  • Change in appearances - from changes in clothing to personal hygenie. Talking differently and being tired more than usual. 
  • Change in friendships - being cautious of older friends your child may have, or relationships with other young people where they appear to have control over your child.
  • New possessions - being aware of new, unexplained gifts and money.
  • Missing day or night - from home or school. Not knowing where they are or who they are with.  
  • Change in behaviour  - becoming secretive, fearful or withdraw, agressive.
  • Getting a lot of phone calls or text and being secretive about them, answering them where parents or carers cannot see or hear. 
  • Unexplained injuries - such as bruises, cuts and burn marks. Being reluctant to go and seek medical attention for them. 
  • Online use - spending more time online and being secretive about what they are doing.   
  • Becoming distant - distancing themsleves from family, friends and their usual activities. 
What can I do as a parent or carer?

As a parent or carer, it is important to discuss with children the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships to help them understand the potential risks.

Children and young people may find it difficult to recognise that they are being exploited. There are a number of practical steps you can take to protect children such as:

  • Making sure you understand the risks associated with your child being online and putting measures in place to minimise these risks.
  • Being cautious of older friends your child may have, or relationships with other young people where they appear to have control over your child.
  • Being aware of new, unexplained gifts and carefully monitoring any instances of staying out late or not returning home.
  • Staying alert to changes in behaviour, or any physical signs of abuse such as bruising.
Help us stop child exploitation- Reporting your concerns
  • If you have any concerns please contact our child sexual exploitation team by calling 01302 737777
  • In an emergency call 999 if a crime is in progress or a life is at risk. For all other incidents please contact South Yorkshire Police on 101.
  • Alternatively, you can contact Childline on 0800 11 11 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
  • Further information and resources are available on the think you know website.


Useful resources 

Read our Staying safe online webpage for more guidance. 

You can find out more information about signs of expolitation by viewing the handy guides below. 

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