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Child Sexual Exploitation – RUWise2it?

What is it?

ruwise2it-logoChild sexual exploitation (CSE) is when a child or young person is tricked or forced into doing something sexual in return for things like attention, affection, money, drugs or alcohol.

It’s a kind of abuse and it is against the law, although young people might not see it that way, because they are groomed by their abusers. Gradually the abuser manipulates the child to do things they are ashamed of and by the time the child realises there is something wrong, they can feel trapped and are too scared or ashamed to tell anyone.

Both grooming and sexual exploitation can happen in real life and online. In fact, online contact often plays a big part in exploitation.

(Video reproduced with kind permission of NSPCC)

What do I need to know?

Who does CSE happen to?

CSE can happen to anyone – both boys and girls can be affected and it doesn’t matter what your ethnic or religious background are, or whether you are gay or straight.

CSE is never the young person’s fault and it is not ok.

What signs can I look out for?

Young people who are being sexually exploited often won’t tell anyone else, even their best friends. But grooming changes how someone acts – so you might be able to pick up some of the possible signs of CSE in someone you know. Some of the things you can look out for are:

    • They become very secretive; stop seeing their usual friends; have really bad mood swings
    • They have new relationships with older men and/or women.
    • They go missing from home or stay out all night
    • They get calls and messages from outside their normal circle of friends
    • They have new, expensive items that you know they couldn’t afford and which they can’t explain, like mobile phones or jewellery – or lots of ‘invisible’ or ‘virtual’ gifts such as phone credit and online gaming credits
    • They suddenly changes their taste in dress or music
    • They look tired or unwell and sleep at unusual hours
    • They have marks or scars on their body, which they try to hide

On their own, not all of these things will mean that someone is being exploited. However, if you spot these signs and are worried about someone you know it is important that you do something about it.

How do I keep myself safe?

The following tips can help you keep safe. Also, if you are worried don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed about talking to someone.

  • Don’t talk to strangers
  • Be careful if you add randoms to your social media account
  • Block people who are inappropriate when talking to you
  • Check people out
  • Think about how well you really know the people you hang out with
  • Listen to your gut feelings
  • Stay on your phone – keep it close to you and charged
  • Stay in an area you know
  • Let people know where you are going
  • Set a time for getting home
  • Don’t go off by yourself if you are drinking or taking drugs
  • Remember you can say NO
  • Don’t send private messages of yourself. If you wouldn’t want your parents to see it – don’t send!
  • Keep your personal stuff online private
  • Think about whether your relationship is healthy 

If you want to find out more information

We have worked with Barnardo’s RUSafe? to produce a leaflet and poster which provide more information on CSE including the signs you can look out for, how you can keep yourself safe, and what to do if you think someone is being exploited.

RUWise2it Leaflet

RUWise2it Poster

If you want copies of the poster of leaflet, for example to display in your school, then please let us know and we can send them to you free of charge.

Barnardo’s has developed loads of great resources on CSE. This includes the following:

  • Their ‘Real Love Rocks’ website has loads of information and advice on CSE, including a video which explains more about what CSE is.
  • Some real life stories and videos from people who have been exploited.
  • The Wud-U? app has been developed for young people, looking at possible risky situations and ways in which to stay safe.

NSPCC provides information on CSE including different types of exploitation (in gangs, online) and real stories from young people who went through it.

If you want to talk to someone

If you are worried about yourself or a friend it is important to tell someone you can trust.

Here are some different options for talking to someone:

Remember if someone is in immediate danger you can call the Police on 999.