Child Sexual Exploitation


What is Child Sexual Exploitation?

Sexual exploitation is a form of sexual abuse, in which a young person is manipulated or forced into taking part in a sexual act. This could be as apart of a relationship that seems to be normal and loving or in return for attention, affection, money, drugs, alcohol or somewhere to stay. 

In many cases, victims will be 'groomed' by an abusing adult, who befriends them and makes them feel special by buying them gifts or giving them lots of attention. Usually the abuser will have some power over the young person. They may be older or more emotionally mature, physically stronger, or they may be in a position where they are able to control the young person. 

This type of abuse can happen to any young person from any background. However, certain young people, such as those who are having difficulties at home, who regularly go missing, or who have experienced care, are more vulnerable. 

What signs to look out for?

Often a victim may not see the abuse themselves. Or, they may think they will not be believed or helped if they do tell someone. Signs include:

  • going missing for periods of time or regularly coming home late
  • regularly missing school or not talking part in education
  • appearing with unexplained gifts or new possessions
  • spending time with other young people involved in exploitation
  • having older boyfriends or girlfriends
  • suffering from sexually transmitted infections or becoming pregnant
  • changes in emotional well-being
  • misuse of drugs or alcohol.

Where to seek advice and help

If you are concerned about yourself or a young person being at risk of child sexual exploitation you should contact:

  • Police: 999 in and emergency or Operation HALO on 101
  • Better Choices via YC Herts


  • Children's Sevices 0300 123 4023
  • Victim Support - Victim Support is the national charity which helps people affected by crime. They provide free and confidential support to help you deal with your experience, whether you report the crime or not.

Awareness Raising

You can download and display the campaign posters CSE Campaign Posters (pdf) or by clicking on the posters below.

You can download leaflets for children and young people, parents and carers and professionals here:

CSE Advice for Children and Young People (pdf)

CSE Advice for Parents and Carers (pdf)

CSE Advice for Professionals (pdf) 

Stop It Now supports adults to play their part in preventing child sexual abuse and provides a helpline for those worried about their own behaviour or the behaviour of other adults towards children and young people. Their helpline is 0808 1000 900.