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What is child sexual exploitation?

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) is a form of child abuse that can affect any child or young person any time, any place, anywhere.

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CSE is where young people are forced or manipulated into sexual activity often by an abuser who grooms them.

The abuser gets the young person to trust them – this can be done face-to-face or online – by giving them gifts, alcohol or other items, making them feel special. They then exploit this trust for their own gain.

They may manipulate the young person into believing they are in a consensual relationship and that they love them.

Either way, the young person is being taken advantage of through this controlling behaviour; it is child abuse and the victims face huge risks to their physical, emotional and psychological health.

Many young people who are being abused do not realise they are at risk and will not call for help. They may see themselves as willing participants when in fact their behaviour is anything but consenting.

It's never the child's fault

CSE is a crime that can affect any child, anytime, anywhere, regardless of their social or ethnic background. CSE can be carried out by individuals, by street gangs or by groups. It can be motivated by money or by sexual gratification. But in all cases, there is an imbalance of power - vulnerable children are controlled and abused by adults or by other children.

The grooming process

Perpetrators gain control over children by grooming them, offering excitement, drugs, alcohol, gifts and affection. At first, this control may take the guise of 'romance' or 'friendship'.

Look out for the warning signs

One of the main signs is a change in the behaviours of a child.


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