Child Sexual Exploitation

Child Exploitation - can you spot the signs

Read on to learn more about the signs and how to start the conversation about CSE

What is Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)?

  • A person under 18 is sexually exploited when they are pressured into sexual activities by one or more person(s) who use their youth and inexperience to force them to have sex.
  • It oftens involves  ‘grooming’, where the child might receive something (such as a mobile phone, clothes, drugs or alcohol, attention or affection) before, or as a result of, performing sexual activities, or having sexual activities performed on them.
  • Child sexual exploitation may take place through technology without the child’s consent; for example through being persuaded to post sexual images over the internet or through mobile phone images which are then shared.
  • It may include violence or threats of violence towards the child, or their family which may stop the child from reporting the abuse or the child may be so confused they do not see it as abuse.
  • CSE can happen to males and females from any culture or faith

CSE warning signs

Many of these are typical of all teenagers, so need to be treated with caution.

  • They may become especially secretive and stop being friendly with their usual friends.
  • They may be particularly prone to sharp mood swings, which may be normal teenage behaviour but it is amount of change that is the warning sign.
  • They may be friendly with, or develop a sexual relationship with older men and/or women (although the exploiter could build a relatinship with your child through someone at school who is already being exploited, or through the youngest member of the grooming network).
  • They may go missing from home and be defensive about where they have been and what they have been doing, often returning home late or staying out all night (although exploiters know that parents will immediately suspect something is wrong if their child stays out all night, so they may drop the child off at home and before their curfew. They may even pick them up outside the school gates).
  • They may receive odd calls and messages on their mobiles or social media pages from unknown, possibly much older friends from outside their normal social network
  • They may have new, expensive items which they couldn’t normally afford, such as mobile phones, iPods or jewellery

Your child may also:

  • Exhibit a sudden change in dressing patterns or musical taste
  • Look tired and/or unwell, and sleep at unusual hours
  • Have marks or scars on their body which they try to conceal
  • Adopt new ‘street language’ or respond to a new street name

 Keep them safe: an interactive tool for parents

Parents Against Child Exploitation (Pace) has produced an interactive online information package for parents on the signs of child sexual exploitation. This free tool is designed to equip parents with the information and knowledge to safeguard children from this abuse, go to



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