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Child Sexual Exploitation – R U Wise 2 It?


What is it?

Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is when a child or young person is tricked or forced into doing something sexual in return for things like love, 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)

Spot the signs of CSE

Sometimes things that seem like normal teenage behaviour could be a sign a young person is being sexually exploited. Signs to watch out for:

  • Becoming withdrawn, clingy or moody
  • Unexplained changes in personality, mood swings and seeming insecure
  • Nightmares or sleeping problems
  • Running away, staying out overnight, missing school
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Talk of a new, older friend, boyfriend or girlfriend and unexplained money or gifts
  • Spending a lot of time online
  • Losing contact with family and friends or becoming secretive
  • Physical signs such as unexplained soreness or bruises around private areas
  • Or you may just be worried about unsafe sexual behaviour

Any one sign doesn’t mean that a young person is being sexually abused, but the presence of several suggests that you should begin to ask questions and consider seeking help.

Concerned about a young person?

If you are worried about a young person, it is important to talk to someone. Please follow the advice here. This gives you some different options for talking to people, whatever your concern.

Further Information

R U Wise 2 It? This leaflet for parents and carers lists some of the signs of CSE and what you should do if you are concerned. You can download and print this leaflet, or please contact us if you would like us to send you a free copy.

If you want to talk confidentially about your concerns and get some advice you can call Stop it Now on 08001000 900 or visit their website

PACE (Parents against Child Sexual Exploitation) is a national charity which works with the parents and carers of sexually exploited children. They can provide advice and support if your child is being sexually exploited. PACE also offers a short (20-30 mins) online course for parents on carers, looking at understanding and identifying signs of CSE. To access this free resource, please click here.

Barnardo’s R U Safe? The Buckinghamshire county-wide service for young people who are being sexually exploited or who are at risk of exploitation.

Barnardo’s Sexual Exploitation Page has lots of information on CSE including sources of family support. Barnardo’s also run a campaign called Real Love Rocks, which has sections for parents and carers as well as for children and young people. This is a helpful resource if you want to find out more about CSE, or if your child is using the Real Loves Rocks programme through their school.

NSPCC Sexual Exploitation page has useful information as well as access to online, confidential support.

The Sexual Health Bucks website provides information on all aspects of sexual health, including where to find services.

The ThinkUKNow website provides information on keeping your child safe online and how you can report online abuse or grooming.

Sometimes CSE can happen in groups or gangs. If you are worried about gangs, then the Home Office provides some advice for parents and carers.