Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)
What is child sexual exploitation?
Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a type of sexual abuse. A young person is exploited because they are given things, like gifts, drugs, money, status and affection, in exchange for performing sexual activities. Violence, coercion and intimidation are common in cases of CSE, as many perpetrators target vulnerable young people. Below are 6 types of child sexual exploitation.
• When the perpetrator has power or control over a young person because they are physically stronger, older or wealthier. This can also occur through a trusted person who is forced or threatened to involve the young person becoming exploited by someone else.
Older adult exploitation – often referred to as the ‘boyfriend’ model:
• The adult offender of CSE is usually at least five years older and befriends and grooms the young person by focusing on their vulnerabilities. The victim will initially feel they are in a positive and rewarding relationship with the perpetrator.
• Power and control issues can lead to young people being isolated and becoming dependent on the ‘boyfriend’. They are often coerced or forced into sex with the perpetrator’s associates.
• Young people are passed by perpetrators through networks, between towns and cities, where they may be forced or coerced into sexual activity with multiple people.
• Young people are often used to recruit other young people to take part in so-called ‘sex parties’ where this can occur.
• Trafficking sometimes involves the ‘buying and selling’ of young people by individuals involved in serious organised crime.
• This is often referred to as sexual bullying. This form of CSE can happen quickly without the build-up of a relationship or the grooming process. Incidents may be filmed on mobile phones and circulated. Incidents may occur publicly or involve multiple perpetrators.
• Over a quarter (28%) of perpetrators identified to the Office of the Children’s Commissioner’s Inquiry into Sexual Exploitation in Gangs and Groups were under 19 years of age.
Gang and group exploitation:
• Young people in gangs or groups may be sexually exploited as part of gang initiation or as punishment. Young people may also be encouraged to recruit peers into the gang, exposing them to similar treatment of CSE and making it difficult to identify perpetrators who control the gang.
• These offences include deceiving children into producing indecent images of themselves, engaging in sexual chat online or sexual activity over a webcam.
• Research reveals that 13 and 14 year olds represent the largest single victim group of child sexual exploitation.
• Risk of going online include:
o Online grooming and child abuse
o Access to age-inappropriate content
o Bullying and cyberbullying
o Personal information falling into the wrong hands
o Talking to strangers or people who misrepresent themselves
o People hacking their accounts.
What should I look out for?
• Being secretive about who they are talking to and where they are going
• Often returning home late or staying out all night
• Sudden changes in their appearance and wearing more revealing clothes
• Becoming involved in drugs or alcohol, particularly if you suspect they are being supplied by older men or women
• Becoming emotionally volatile (mood swings are common in all young people, but more severe changes could indicate that something is wrong)
• Using sexual language that you wouldn’t expect them to know
• Engaging less with their usual friends
• Appearing controlled by their phone
• Switching to a new screen when you come near the computer
• Being associated with a gang
• Becoming estranged from family
• Regularly missing school
• Associating with older men and women, particularly if they go missing and are being defensive about where they are and what they’re doing
• Possessing items such as phones or jewellery that you haven’t given them but which they couldn’t afford to buy themselves
• Having more than one, or a secret phone
You should be aware of the following signs of CSE and abuse:
• They are regularly suffering from sexually transmitted infections
• They have unexplained physical injuries such as bruising
• Having mood swings or being emotionally volatile
• Self-harm or suicide attempts
What can we do to help keep our young people safe?
The NSPCC offers advice on how to protect children. It advises:
• helping children to understand their bodies and sex in a way that is appropriate for their age
• developing an open and trusting relationship, so they feel they can talk to you about things that bother them. Let children or young people know they can talk to someone on anonymous support services such as ChildLine.org.uk.
• explaining the difference between safe secrets (such as a surprise party) and unsafe secrets (things that make them unhappy or uncomfortable)
• teaching children to respect family boundaries, such as privacy in sleeping, dressing and bathing
• teaching them self-respect and how to say no
• supervising internet, mobile and television use and to think about placing restriction settings on online devices. Find out more at thinkuknow.co.uk.
• calling the police when a child goes missing, even if this happens regularly. You do not need to wait 24 hours
• explaining that it’s easy for people to lie about age, gender, interests online and children should never arrange to meet someone without an adult who they trust
• making sure children or young people know that once they share personal details online, including pictures, they lose control over where these may end up
Where do I go for support?
It is very important to report any suspicions on child sexual exploitation and make a report to the police, or if you are unsure you are welcome to talk to the Safeguarding Team regarding your concerns. Below are websites that have information on CSE that may clarify your situation. As a school, it is always helpful to know and understand what you may be experiencing so that we can support the young person and the family.
Useful contacts and further information.
- CS@rooksheath.harrow.sch.uk – Safeguarding Team at Rooks Heath
- firstname.lastname@example.org – Police liaison at Rooks Heath
- Operation Makesafe
- Internet Watch Foundation
A Met campaign helping to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation in the business community.
A national charity helping children in poverty, supporting young carers and helping families looking to foster or adopt.
• National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC)
A national children's charity, preventing abuse and helping those affected to recover.
• Safer London
A London charity specialising in supporting young people through violence and exploitation.
• Parents Against Child Exploitation (PACE)
The leading national charity working with parents and carers of sexually exploited children.
• ECPAT UK
A UK organisation campaigning against child trafficking and exploitation.
• https://www.childline.org.uk – or call 0800 1111
• Stop It Now!- or call the confidential helpline: 0808 1000 900
Advice and information and a useful toolkit suitable for parents and carers about harmful sexual behaviour.