Child Sexual Exploitation

In this blog we will take a deeper look at Child Sexual Exploitation, it’s signs and symptoms and the effect of it.

What is Child Sexual Explotation?

Child sexual exploitation is, as it sounds, a form of sexual abuse. It is where a child or vulnerable person is persuaded to perform sexual acts by being given materialist things, money or even just giving them attention or love that they may be missing in their lives. They can sometimes be threatened with violence or just frightened into performing sexual acts. This could be done by making them feel that they have no other option or that the perpetrator will hurt or threaten them or their families. 

Trafficked children and vulnerable people can be sexually exploited, they are moved around the country to be forced to take part in sexual activities, this can also be with more than one person. Children and vulnerable people can be coerced into joining gangs by the same means. Once in the gang, they can be expected to perform sexual acts either out of fear or obligation. Anybody can be a perpetrator of CSE, no matter their age, gender or race. The relationship could be framed as friendship, someone to look up to or romantic. 

Know your context too, certain areas in the country are ‘hot spots’ for CSE and you should be aware of whether your area is classified as such. Local Government Association has created this pack for Local Authorities in order to tackle CSE and understanding geographical hot spots. 

Signs and symptoms of a child or vulnerable adult is a victim of CSE 

As with all signs and symptoms of abuse, they can be hard to spot or they can be confused with just normal behavior, so it is important to know what the signs could be of CSE. 

  • Unhealthy or inappropriate sexual behaviour
  • Being frightened of some people, places or situations 
  • Bring secretive
  • Sharp changes in mood or character
  • Having money or things they can't or won't explain
  • Physical signs of abuse, like bruises or bleeding in their genital or anal area
  • Walking with difficulty or noticing that sitting is uncomfortable
  • Alcohol or drug misuse
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Pregnancy 

If a child reveals abuse 

If a child talks to you about sexual exploitation, or any type of abuse, it's important to: 

  • Listen carefully to what they're saying 
  • Let them know they've done the right thing by telling you 
  • Tell them it's not their fault 
  • Say you'll take them seriously 
  • Don't confront the alleged abuser 
  • Explain what you'll do next 
  • Report what the child has told you as soon as possible 

Effects of Child Sexual Exploitation 

There are severe long term effects for a child that is a victim of CSE, either online or in person. These can include but not exclusive to: 

  • Struggle with trust and be fearful of forming new relationships 
  • Become isolated from family and friends 
  • Fail exams or drop out of education 
  • Become pregnant at a young age 
  • Experience unemployment 
  • Have mental health problems 
  • Make suicide attempts 
  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Taking part in criminal behaviour 
  • Experience homelessness


If you are concerned that any child or vulnerable is a victim of CSE please call: 

  • Call 999 if the child is at immediate risk
  • Call 101 if you think a crime has been committed
  • Call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or contact them online
Posted Date

6th June 2022

Vikkey Chaffe
Head of Community Relations

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