Child Sexual Exploitation

Child Sexual Exploitation (or CSE) is a term that explains what happens when abusers encourage children and young people under 18 into sexually exploitative situations, contexts and relationships. These often involve the young person being given things such as food, accommodation, drugs, affection, gifts of money in return for performing sexual activities. Victims will often be groomed for a period of time before physical or sexual abuse takes place.

Child Sexual Exploitation is a form of child abuse, it is not a specific criminal offence but the term encompasses a range of different forms of serious criminal conduct and a number of individual offences. The sexual exploitation of a child or young person will almost certainly involve the commission of a crime, or have the potential for a crime to be committed.

CSE can occur through the use of technology without the child’s immediate recognition, for example the persuasion to post or send sexual images of themselves with no immediate payment or gain. In all cases, those exploiting the young person have power over them by virtue of their age, gender, intellect, physical strength and resources available to them.

Violence, coercion and intimidation are common in child sexual exploitation cases as many perpetrators target vulnerable young people. The vulnerability is often due to economic or physical circumstances that leave the young people with few choices, however, it is important to remember any child may be targeted so it is important to help them keep safe.

PACE (Parents against Child Sexual Abuse) have created a free online learning module about the signs and symptoms as well as the impact of CSE. It also gives advice on what to do when you think a child might be at risk of CSE