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Child Sexual Exploitation

What is Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)?

  • CSE is a form of child abuse where the victim is given something – food, money, drugs, alcohol, gifts – in exchange for sexual activity with the abuser. Offenders target vulnerable young people and use their power – physical, financial, emotional etc. – over the child to sexually abuse them.
  • Violence, coercion and intimidation are common. Involvement in exploitative relationships is characterised by the child or young person’s limited availability of choice as a result of their social, economic or emotional vulnerability.
  • A common feature of CSE is that the child or young person does not recognise the coercive nature of the relationship and does not see themselves as a victim of exploitation. This means that they are unlikely to report the abuse so we must all be alert to the signs of CSE and report concerns to the authorities.
  • CSE can occur through the use of technology without the young person’s immediate recognition; for example being persuaded to post images on the internet/ mobile phones without immediate payment or gain.
  • Following high profile CSE cases in recent years, we have all learnt much more about child abuse and child sexual exploitation. As a society, we have a greater understanding of CSE and a growing intolerance of it.
  • There is not one type of victim or offender of CSE. CSE can take many forms in many settings. If we look at just one model, such as group or gang CSE, we risk missing other victims who do not fall into that category. There is also a risk that victims don’t recognise their abuse as CSE because it doesn’t fit a particular model.

How many young people are affected?

  • Evidence shows that there is a strong link between young people who frequently go missing from home and them being sexually exploited.
  • There’s help available for parents, carers and families affected by young people going missing.
  • If your child / young person has gone missing and comes home with unexplained gifts then tell us.
  • 4,266 children and young people went missing from home or care in Greater Manchester in 2014.
  • These young people went missing a total of 12,825 times.
  • 44% of those young people only went missing once.
  • 74% went missing between 1 and 5 times.
  • 52% of young people return home on their own accord.
  • 43 young people went missing more than 100 times.
  • Of the 377 young people identified as being vulnerable to sexual exploitation, 95% had at least one missing episode.  15% went missing over 50 times.

Support for Young People:

  • If you’ve run away, been forced to leave home, are thinking about it or are worried about someone, there are organisations that can listen and offer support.
  • Going missing from home is dangerous – if you are planning on not returning home, let someone know where you are.
  • The Runaway Helpline is 116000. Call anonymously for help or advice.
  • Running away makes you vulnerable to a range of dangers including physical and sexual abuse or exploitation.
  • If someone pressures you to stay away from home, consider their motives. Know the signs of CSE.

Support for parents and carers:

  • When someone is missing or has run away, it is a sign that something isn’t right. Young people who run away often do it more than once.
  • When a young person runs away and has nowhere safe to go, they can often find themselves in dangerous environments, which increases their risk of CSE.
  • Often children who run away are not reported as missing. If running away is unusual or out of character, please contact the authorities.
  • If a young person stays out later than they should, or doesn’t come home for long periods at a time and you don’t know where they are, consider alerting the police.
  • Encourage your young person to talk to you about their day to day experiences. Talk through ways in which they can protect themselves if they find themselves in difficult situations.

Web resources:


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CSE It's Not OK