Recognising Child Sexual Exploitation and Getting Help

HealthAdvice & Information

Do you think that you or someone you know are victims of child sexual exploitation (CSE)? CSE is a serious crime that affects thousands of children and young people in England every year. It has a devastating impact on young people and their families and should be a concern for everyone. It is largely a hidden crime, and raising awareness of this type of abuse is essential to preventing it and stopping it early when it does happen. Remember that there is always help available.

What is child sexual exploitation?

Sexual exploitation is when someone uses you for sex. It can be hard to recognise because you often believe you’re in a good relationship with the person - or people - who want to abuse your trust in them. It could be a friend, or group of friends. It could be someone you think of as a boyfriend or girlfriend, a relative, a family friend or your mum or dad's partner. It could be a person or a new group of people you’ve only just got to know. It could even be someone you've talked to online. But whoever it is, they could use clever ways to take advantage of your relationship - and that means you can be harmed almost before you know what’s going on.

For example, someone might give you money, drugs, alcohol, gifts or somewhere to stay and then force you to do one or more of these things in return:

  • have sex with them or somebody they know
  • do something sexual to them
  • be touched inappropriately or in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable
  • look at sexual images - including films or pictures
  • watch them do something sexual, including having sex or touching themselves sexually

That’s exploitation.

Youth Connexions run a Healthy Relationships programme so you know what is healthy and appropriate in relationships. You can find more information here.

What are the signs?

There's a lot of signs to watch out for - for yourself and others. These can include (but aren't limited to):

  • going missing from home or care
  • being absent from school
  • history of previous abuse
  • gang association
  • receipts of gifts from unknown sources or being given gifts in order to do something sexual (like above)
  • drug/alcohol misuse
  • repeat sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, and terminations
  • physical injuries
  • poor mental health/self-harm/attempts or thoughts of suicide
  • getting others involved in exploitative situations

Trust yourself to know when something is wrong. If someone makes you feel unsafe, pressured, trapped or frightened follow your instincts straight away.

Don't trust people you don't know even if they seem friendly, and make sure you know who you are talking to online. Never give away personal details or agree to meet someone who you've only talked to online unless you have discussed this first with a parent or carer.

Don't be tricked into doing things that are unsafe, even if it seems like fun. What might look exciting at first could be more harmful than you realise.

CSE offenders look for vulnerable people but anyone can be a victim.

What should I do if I'm being sexually exploited?

  • Talk to an adult you trust as soon as you can. People who can help you include parents, teachers, social workers, and carers.
  • Call the Police: 101 (non emergency) or 999 (for emergency use only). If you think yourself or others are in immediate danger please call 999
  • Call Children's Services: 0300 123 4043
  • Call Crimestoppers anonymously 24/7 on: 0800 555 11
  • ChildLine is a free, confidential helpline for all young people: 0800 1111
  • You can ring the NSPCC helpline on: 0808 800 5000


Venue: This is a reference website, this postcode is for search engine only, Hertfordshire HP3 9BF

Age Range: All ages

Cost: None

Timing and Repeats:
If you or others are in immediate danger please call the Police on 999. For other support services please see above.

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Organisation: Hertfordshire County Council, tel: , email: , website: click here...

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