Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)
Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a type of sexual abuse where children and young people are manipulated or forced to perform sexual activities (e.g. penetrative sex, sexual touching, masturbation, or sending sexual images) often in exchange for things like money, drugs, gifts, affection, food, and accommodation.
Anyone can be a perpetrator of CSE, no matter their age, ethnicity or gender, and children and young people are often tricked into believing that they are in a loving relationship, often known as grooming.
Grooming involves building a relationship, trust, and emotional connection with the child or young person so that they can be taken advantage of and exploited. The forms of relationship a groomer can build includes romantic relationships, mentorships, and relationships can be built via social media, messaging apps, on games and apps, or in person. A groomer will often give the child or young person a lot of attention, gifts, and take them on trips/outings or holidays.
Child sexual exploitation (CSE) can occur through the use of technology without the child’s immediate recognition; for example being persuaded to post sexual images on the Internet or by message without immediate payment or gain. An abuser can control the child or young person using violence or blackmail before moving onto sexual abuse, and this can happen within a short time period.
Both girls and boys are at risk of sexual exploitation, and children are most vulnerable between the ages of 13 and 15, though children can be targeted at a younger age. Children and young people often find it very hard to understand or accept that they are being abused through sexual exploitation, and this increases their risk of being exposed to violent assault and life threatening events by those who abuse them.
Children and young people can be trafficked into or within the UK to be sexually exploited. Learn more about child trafficking and modern slavery here.