Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a type of sexual abuse. When a child or young person is
exploited they're given things, like gifts, drugs, money, status and affection, in exchange for performing sexual activities.
Children and young people are often tricked into believing they're in a loving and consensual relationship. This is called grooming. They may trust their abuser and not understand that they're being abused. Sometimes abusers use violence and intimidation to frighten or force a child or young person, making them feel as if they've no choice. They may lend them large sums of money they know can't be repaid or use financial abuse to control them. In layman's terms: Child Sexual Exploitation is when someone takes advantage of the vulnerability of a child or young person for a sexual purpose.
Anybody can be a perpetrator of CSE, no matter their age, gender or race. The relationship could be framed as friendship, someone to look up to or romantic. Children and young people who are exploited may also be used to 'find' or coerce others to join groups.
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.