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Child sexual exploitation

Are you being exploited by an older boyfriend or girlfriend?

What is child sexual exploitation (CSE)?

You've probably heard about child sexual exploitation on the news or in the media. It's when someone makes or manipulates you into doing sexual things for the benefit or enjoyment of others.

It's a form of sexual abuse and is against the law.

How does child sexual exploitation happen?

CSE can happen to any young person at any time. Some adults target young people in order to draw them into sexually abusive relationships and this can be done by:

  • offering you money or buying you presents
  • showing you a lot of affection and interest and making you feel special
  • taking you out places or offering you a place to stay
  • humiliating or threatening to humiliate you
  • hurting you or threatening to hurt you
  • gaining your trust - but once they have gained your trust, they may start to change how they act towards you.

Child sexual exploitation can seem like a normal friendship or relationship to start with. It can happen online or offline and often the young person is not aware that this is an abusive relationship.

Who does it?

There isn't a standard profile of an exploiter, and CSE can also happen between young people especially within gangs or social groups.

People who commit this crime can be male or female and from any background. They may have status that makes them seem 'cool' to others, and might show attention that no one else gives. They might listen, offer advice, or give compliments.

Because there's no standard profile of an offender, child sexual exploitation is difficult to spot, even for the young person affected. CSE can happen over time so the young person is not aware they are a victim - this is called grooming.

People who commit CSE can be very manipulative. At first a young person may like, respect, or even think they are falling in love with the person exploiting them. This process involves making them feel 'special', so they become attached. They might buy presents or give attention to make you think they are falling in love. Sometimes the abuser will strengthen their control over the young person by driving them away from those who would usually look after them, whether that's family, friends or carers. Later the behaviour of the abuser starts to change. By this point, the young person is likely to feel trapped, isolated and scared, and they may find it difficult to acknowledge that they are no longer comfortable in the relationship.

Where do I go to for help?

If you think that you or a friend is being groomed or exploited by an adult for sexual purposes it is really important you talk to someone such as

  • parent / carer
  • youth worker
  • teacher
  • police
  • trusted adult.

Remember - talking to someone is the first step to getting help and stopping things happening.

If you're in immediate danger and need protection call the police tel: 999.

If you're not in immediate danger and you would like some advice from the police, tel: 101.

We have a new service called Starting Point tel: 01629 533190.

The Derbyshire Safeguarding Board has lots more information and support around CSE, as well as links to different films which can help you spot the signs.