What is Child Sexual Exploitation?
Child Sexual Exploitation is a form of sexual abuse that can affect any child, anytime, anywhere - regardless of their social or ethnic background.
It relates to situations where a young person is manipulated or forced into taking part in some form of sexual activity in return for something the young person needs or desires, for example; attention, a sense of belonging, affection, money, drugs, alcohol or accommodation.
The young person might think that their abuser is their friend or girl/boyfriend but the abuser is likely to be violent and /or abusive to get the young person to do what they want for them. They will control and manipulate the young person and try to isolate them from friends and family.Just because a young person receives something they need or desire does not mean that they are not being abused. Taking advantage of this need or desire, and making the young person think they are in control because they are getting something in return, is part of the abusive process.
If you are a professional working with children and young people, please take a look at the Child Sexual Exploitation: Definition and Guidance developed by the CSE Knowledge Transfer Partnership NI.
How do I know Child Sexual Exploitation is happening?
There are a number of different forms in which CSE can present itself; these can range from internet sexual exploitation, sexual exploitation at house parties and the movement of young people for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
There is no typical victim of Child Sexual Exploitation, however there are warning signs which may indicate something is wrong – and if you know what you're looking for, you can take steps to help them.
Ask yourself is the young person...
- Regularly missing from home or school or staying out all night
- Receiving lots of texts or phone calls prior to leaving
- Changing in physical appearance or personal hygiene
- Experiencing low self-esteem or self-harming
If you are a taxi driver, sell alcohol, work in hotel or Bed and Breakfast accommodation; or other place where leisure activities take place
Is your customer
- Under 18 years old?
- With an older person and in a relationship?
- Going to a hotel, house party or secluded location?
If you know the young person, have you noticed....
- A change in behaviour – becoming aggressive and disruptive or quiet and withdrawn
- Unexplained gifts of new possessions such as clothes, jewellery, mobile phones or money that can’t be accounted for
- Increase in the amount of time spent online and/or secretive use
- A significantly older ‘boyfriend’ or ‘friend’ or lots of new friends
- Sudden involvement in criminal behaviour or increased offending
- Physical symptoms or infections such as bruising, bite marks, sexually transmitted infections;
- Evidence or suspicion of substance misuse – drugs/alcohol/solvents/legal highs
If you think something isn’t right – chances are you are right!