Child Sexual Exploitation
Any child can be at risk and anyone can be an abuser
Child sexual exploitation is abuse and can happen between children of the same age or a child being abused by an older person but in many cases the child may not realise they are being used for sex.
It can involve physical contact or happen online where a child gets persuaded to send photos or videos of themselves.
The main point to remember is that it’s never the child's fault. The abuser is the person in the wrong and they know it too, that’s why they’ll try and keep the relationship as secret as possible.
The abuser will usually try to separate the child from their family and other friends by making them feel as if no one else cares about them. They'll probably offer gifts, drink, drugs or just attention and 'friendship', this is called grooming and makes it hard for the child to stop the relationship, even when it becomes scary or they get hurt.
If you know about (or suspect) a relationship like this then you should report it straight away and if you know a child is in danger you should call the police, but don't try and confront the abuser. This can be dangerous for you and for the person they're abusing.
How to spot when someone is trying to abuse you
- If you make a new friend and they ask you to keep your friendship a secret, they probably know they're doing something wrong and they're afraid of getting into trouble (though they might say it’s because you’ll be in trouble, which is a lie).
- If you make a friend and they give you things for no reason (it's not your birthday or Christmas for example) and ask you for something in return, or try to make you feel bad if you say you don't want to do something. This isn't how good friendships work.
- If you feel bad about the friendship, even if it just makes you feel a little uncomfortable but you're not sure why, you should listen to these feelings. If a friendship is good there's no reason to feel worried or guilty about it
If you're worried about someone else
If you've noticed a child acting differently, or you're worried but not sure why, there are some signs you can look for in their behaviour which could mean they're being abused...
- If they go missing a lot from home or school.
- If their behaviour changes for the worst, they might get into trouble or start drinking or using drugs.
- If they start to act secretive and get snappy when you ask about their day.
- If they start bringing home new things like gifts or money and you don't know where it's coming from.
- If they start hanging out with new friends and won't bring them home, or if the friends are older (remember abusers can be the same age and can be male or female).
Get advice about what to do about abuse
We’ve put some helpful leaflets in the 'You may want' section on the right hand side of this page, there are also lots of other organisations who can give you information and advice about this...
How we use your information