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Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE): Just the facts

Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a form of abuse.

It doesn’t matter what community, background or religion you are from, CSE can happen to boys and girls. It’s important to remember it’s never, ever your fault.

What is Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)?

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) is a form of sexual abuse and occurs when a child or young person is being groomed or tricked into believing that they are in a loving relationship or have a great friendship.

When a young person is being exploited, they are often given gifts, like money, designer clothing, drugs, cigarettes and alcohol. This usually ends up being in exchange for performing sexual activities.

In some cases, children and young people are forced into taking part in sexual activities as they feel that they have no other choice.  Someone may lend them large amounts of money that they know can’t be repaid or use financial abuse to control them. Some of the things that they may want you to do include:

  • having sex with them
  • having sex with other people
  • looking at sexual images – including films and pictures
  • send sexual pictures of yourself

A lot of the time, the child or young person trusts their abuser and doesn’t realise or understand that they are being abused. This is because the perpetrator has worked to form a friendship, a relationship or be someone that you might look up to. Perpetrators can be male or female, and they can be older or the same age as you.

In some cases, children and young people who have been exploited are used to find other children and young people who can also be exploited. These children and young people often don’t realise what they are doing.

How does Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) happen?

The person or people who want to abuse you will try to befriend you, build up a friendship/relationship with you and try to get you to trust them.

You might meet them through your family, friends, at school, when you’re ‘hanging out’ with your friends, or online via chatrooms or social media.

These people are very clever; they know that young people like to meet with their friends in places such as the local park, cinema, shopping centres or fast food outlets, or use lots of different social media platforms and other online forums.

They might try to isolate you from your family, friends and other people who care about you because it’s easier to control you and make you do things if you have nobody to talk to.

As they gain more power and control over you, they might threaten to hurt you or your family and friends if you don’t do what they want.

In some cases, children and young people are trafficked into or within the UK to be sexually exploited and are moved around the country. Children and young people in gangs can also be sexually exploited by other gang members.

Take a look at our advice around ways to protect yourself from being exploited.

How to get help

If you have any more questions or want to speak to somebody about this, have a look at these links or search for local services in the blue box below. Alternatively you can always contact your school nurse.

Cross Hatch

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Find out what services are available to you in your area. Remember your school nurse is always there to give you confidential help and support.

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