Child sexual exploitation- often known as (CSE) is a form of sexual abuse which can involve manipulation and/or coercion of young people under the age of 18 into sexual activity. It often involves young people being offered something in return for performing sexual acts, for example:

Alcohol, Cigarettes, Mobile Phones, Gifts, Money, Drugs, Love

Where does it happen?

Young people can be groomed and sexually exploited anywhere they choose to live learn and play as well as at a variety of premises and locations such as:

Parks, Shopping centres, Taxi ranks, Restaurants, Takeaways, Gyms, Leisure centres, Hotels, Hostels, Pubs/bars/clubs.

Young people and the warning signs of CSE:

CSE can be very difficult to spot for victims, especially if the abuser is someone they trust. If you are in regular contact with young people, it is crucial that you’re able to spot the warning signs of CSE to stop the crime developing. If you have an indication that something is wrong it is crucial that it is reported.

The signs:

  • Not attending school or coming home late
  • Staying out overnight without an explanation
  • Older boyfriend/girlfriend
  • Increasingly secretive
  • Often tired and sleeping at unusual times
  • Not performing well at school
  • Disengaged from family or other support networks
  • Change in appearance/dressing in a way that is inappropriate for their age
  • Visible signs of abuse such as bruising
  • Becoming more aggressive/using abusive language
  • Unexplained money or gifts
  • New relationships with older people
  • Regularly drinking alcohol or drug abuse


CSE can affect any young person no matter of their ethnicity or social background. CSE can happen anytime, anywhere and can be carried out by individuals, gangs or groups.

How CSE can occur:

CSE can also be conducted over the internet where it is easy for offenders to pretend to take a different identity. They may use websites, online forums or social media to target their victims and gain their trust before abusing.

Via friends, Girlfriend or boyfriend:
The abuser will often build a close relationship with the young person as their boyfriend/girlfriend or friend. Over time, however, things will change and the offender might make the young person do things for them in order to maintain their relationship.

Organised networks:
Photos and videos of young people may be shared amongst groups of people who will be working together. They will persuade young people to attend parties amongst the network where the abuse will occur.

Chance meeting:
Remember, CSE doesn’t just involve a relationship being built first. It can occur on a chance meeting when an offender sees a young person out late or in a place that is not appropriate for their age. They will target vulnerable victims and offer them money, alcohol or a lift for example.

Unassuming abuser:
Abusers aren’t always older than their victims. CSE can also occur amongst people in the same group of friends who are the same age. Offenders are not necessarily older than their victims as in many cases abusers may be the victim’s peers.



Children and young people who are victims of sexual exploitation are also vulnerable to trafficking across cities and counties within the UK, and also international trafficking into and out of the UK for the purposes of sexual exploitation. Trafficking involves the illegal trade in human beings for the purposes of sexual exploitation.

The recognition of trafficking within the UK applies irrespective of distance travelled and hence can be applied to movements within the same city.

Section 59A of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (SOA) specifies that trafficking within the UK for the purposes of sexual exploitation is an offence punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

If you have concerns about a possible victim of CSE or trafficking contact your local MASH hub.

For more information on how our safeguarding team can assist you in better equipping your business and staff to be able to spot the signs and prevent safeguarding issues, get in touch:

01254 355688