Child Sexual Exploitation

Updated: 23/01/17

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) is now well recognised as an issue of concern.  CSE can and does occur in all geographical areas, including rural communities, although most high profile media reports tend to focus on urban areas.

CSE can occur through use of technology without the child’s immediate recognition e.g. being persuaded to post sexual images, without immediate payment or gain.  In all cases those exploiting the child or young person have power over them by virtue of their age, gender, intellect, physical strength, and/or economic or other resources.  Violence, coercion and intimidation are common, involvement in exploitative relationships being characterised in the main by the child/young person’s limited availability of choice resulting from their social/economic and/or emotional vulnerability.  (Office of Children’s Commissioner’s Inquiry into CSE in Gangs and Groups, November 2012).

Some groups of children are considered particularly vulnerable to being sexually exploited.  However, it is recognized that any child can become a victim of CSE. A range of methods are used by those who exploit, often involving the use of social media and/or information technology.  Where children display worrying behaviours, including a change in their behaviour and presentation, CSE should considered when identifying possible causes.

Alcohol and substance misuse, most frequently cannabis, is frequently associated with CSE, and other factors include sexually transmitted infections (STIs), pregnancy, mental health problems, going missing.  More children living with parents are reported to be involved in CSE than Looked After Children.

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