What is child exploitation?

If you are worried about how you or someone you know is being treated tell someone call Childline 0800 11 11 or visit our help and advice pages.

What is child sexual exploitation?

Child sexual exploitation is when someone grooms and controls a child for a sexual purpose.

It can happen to boys and girls, it can happen in rural and urban areas, it can happen face to face and it can happen online. It is a form of child abuse.

What is grooming?

People who sexually exploit children and young people are very manipulative in their behaviour. They will spend a lot of time getting to know you so that you feel happy and comfortable in their social group before they begin with acts of exploitation. This process can take weeks or even months and  they will start meeting you over a period of time and slowly embed themselves into your life.

What are the signs to look out for?

People who sexually exploit children tend to cruise around places where children gather, such as outside school gates and cinemas. You might get a young guy who starts to talk to children identifying the 'vulnerable ones'. They'll start meeting with them over time and slowly embed themselves into their lives. These types of adults can also contact you through social networking sites such as Facebook. They will appear very nice genuine people and may offer you gifts such as a mobile phone but will insist that you do not explain who gave it to you.

They will make you believe that their gangs are 'cool' and are not into 'meeting parents' or knowing anything about your family.  They may say it is your opportunity to be independent from the rule of your parents. They will make you believe it is a 'them and us' situation. These people will say that they understand you, and convince you that nobody else is able to understand or care about you in they way they can. 

Once they have got you hooked on them, it's pay back time.  They may say things like: 'right now you owe me'. Their friends may then pay to have sex with you. 

What if I or someone I know is experiencing child sexual exploitation?

If you are worried for someone you know you must tell a trusted adult so they can investigate the situation even if you are not sure it is still important to tell someone.  For example if your friend often has things like a new mobile phone, designer shoes or handbags, but they offer no explanation as to how they received these things, they refuse to discuss it, or their explanation does not sound believable. It is possible this may be a sign of somebody who is trying to sexually exploit them.

It is important to tell someone.

Further information

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