Child Sexual Exploitation
What is Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)?
CSE is a type of child abuse. It happens when a young person is encouraged, or forced, to take part in sexual activity in exchange for something.
Children or young people may be tricked into believing they're in a loving, consensual relationship. They might be invited to parties and given drugs and alcohol. They may also be groomed and exploited online.
Who does is happen to?
Who does it?
People who commit this crime can be male or female and they normally have an 'edge' over the young person they target. They might be older, wealthier, or physically stronger than them. They may have a status that makes them seem 'cool' to others, and might give support and attention that no one else provides. They might listen, offer advice, or give compliments.
They are often using the internet to protect their identity, and trafficking children around the country to avoid detection.
There's no 'standard' profile of an exploiter, and CSE is hard to spot – even for the young person affected. They may be groomed over time and so not be aware that they are a victim, and even if they are, they may think it's their fault.
How does it happen?
At first, a young person may like, respect, or event think they are falling in love with the person exploiting them. This is because they are 'groomed' over time. This process involves making them feel 'special', so they become attached. But later, the behaviour of the abuser starts to change, often slowly. By this point, the young person is likely to feel trapped, isolated and scared. They may find it difficult to acknowledge that they are no longer comfortable in the relationship.
People who commit child sexual exploitation can be very manipulative. They might buy presents or give emotional attention that makes a young person feel on top of the world, or as if they are falling in love. They may single out their victims and target them face-to-face, or approach them online.
Sometimes the abuser will strengthen their control over the young person by driving them away from those who would usually look after them, whether that's family, friends or carers.
What are the signs?
Sexual exploitation affects thousands of children and young people every year. By knowing the tell-tale signs, we can all play an important role in reducing that number.
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