Child Sexual Exploitation

Child Sexual Exploitation ( CSE)

The following information is taken from the 2017 Government document on definition of CSE.

‘Child sexual exploitation is a form of child sexual abuse. It occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into sexual activity (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or (b) for the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator. The victim may have been sexually exploited even if the sexual activity appears consensual. Child sexual exploitation does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur through the use of technology.’ (

Like all forms of child sexual abuse, child sexual exploitation can:

  • affect any child or young person (male or female) under the age of 18 years, including 16 and 17 year olds who can legally consent to have sex;
  • still be abuse even if the sexual activity appears consensual;
  • include both contact (penetrative and non-penetrative acts) and non-contact sexual activity;
  • take place in person or via technology, or a combination of both;
  • involve force and/or enticement-based methods of compliance and may, or may not, be accompanied by violence or threats of violence;
  • occur without the child or young person’s immediate knowledge (through others copying videos or images they have created and posting on social media, for example);
  • be perpetrated by individuals or groups, males or females, and children or adults. The abuse can be a one-off occurrence or a series of incidents over time, and range from opportunistic to complex organised abuse; and is typified by some form of power imbalance in favour of those perpetrating the abuse. Whilst age may be the most obvious, this power imbalance can also be due to a range of other factors including gender, sexual identity, cognitive ability, physical strength, status, and access to economic or other resources (


Child sexual exploitation is never the victim’s fault

Who is vulnerable to child sexual exploitation?

Any child, in any community: Child sexual exploitation is occurring across the country but is often hidden so prevalence data is hard to ascertain. However, areas proactively looking for child sexual exploitation are uncovering a problem. All practitioners should be open to the possibility that the children they work with might be affected.

Age: Children aged 12-15 years of age are most at risk of child sexual exploitation although victims as young as 8 have been identified, particularly in relation to online concerns. Equally, those aged 16 or above can also experience child sexual exploitation, and it is important that such abuse is not overlooked due to assumed capacity to consent. Account should be taken of heightened risks amongst this age group, particularly those without adequate economic or systemic support.

Gender: Though child sexual exploitation may be most frequently observed amongst young females, boys are also at risk. Practitioners should be alert to the fact that boys may be less likely than females to disclose experiences of child sexual exploitation and less likely to have these identified by others.

Ethnicity: Child sexual exploitation affects all ethnic groups.

Heightened vulnerability factors: Working Together makes clear the requirements for holistic assessment. Sexual exploitation is often linked to other issues in the life of a child or young person, or in the wider community context. Practitioners should be alert to the fact that child sexual exploitation is complex and rarely presents in isolation of other needs and risks of harm (although this may not always be the case, particularly in relation to online abuse). Child sexual exploitation may be linked to other crimes and practitioners should be mindful that a child who may present as being involved in criminal activity is actually being exploited.


The following vulnerabilities are examples of the types of things children can experience that might make them more susceptible to child sexual exploitation but remember:

Not all children and young people with these vulnerabilities will experience child sexual exploitation and child sexual exploitation can also occur without any of these vulnerabilities being present.

  • Having a prior experience of neglect, physical and/or sexual abuse;
  • Lack of a safe/stable home environment, now or in the past (domestic violence or parental substance misuse, mental health issues or criminality, for example);
  • Recent bereavement or loss;
  • Social isolation or social difficulties;
  • Absence of a safe environment to explore sexuality;
  • Economic vulnerability;
  • Homelessness or insecure accommodation status;
  • Connections with other children and young people who are being sexually exploited;
  • Family members or other connections involved in adult sex work;
  • Having a physical or learning disability;
  • Being in care (particularly those in residential care and those with interrupted care histories); and
  • Sexual identity.

If you think you are at risk of, experiencing or are vulnerable to CSE and want help or support or if you know a friend or family member who may need help, then there are organisations you can go to for support which are listed below.

If you are in immediate danger, then please call 999

If you need support in school or further support and sign posts then please contact me at the school or email [email protected] during term times

First Light- Support in Cornwall

First Light provides specialist support to victims – male and female, adult and child – of any gender or sexuality, of sexual violence and domestic abuse in Devon and Cornwall.


Helpline: 0300 777 4777

Email: [email protected]


The Willow Centre (based behind Truro Health Park near car park). This is a SARC.  (Sexual Abuse Referral Centre) and is a specialist medical and forensic services for anyone who has been raped or sexually assaulted. Age range 13 and up.

They aim to be a one-stop service, providing the all of the following under one roof: medical care and forensic examination following assault/rape and, in some locations, sexual health services. Medical Services are free of charge and provided to women, men, young people and children. Please note there is a limited window where medical evidence can be collected. You can access this service even if you do not want police involvement

Website: Via First  light or

Telephone office hours: 01872 272059

Out of hours: 101

Address: Truro Health Park Infirmary Hill Truro


PACE Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation

Pace offers one-to-one telephone support, national and local meet-ups with other affected parents and information on how parents can work in partnership with police and social care. It also provides a free online course around CSE and a parent forum.


National support team number:  0113 240 5226.

Online form:

Keep them safe: free online course for parents/carers:


Devon and Cornwall Police

If you are being exploited or abused, help is available.  You can call 116 000 for confidential help and advice, click on one of the links on this page or contact us (the police) direct on 101 or 999 if you are in immediate danger.




You can chat to childline about anything


Free Telephone number: 0800 1111

Email page:

One to one chat online: