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Warning Signs of Child Sexual Exploitation

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) is a loaded topic, but for us to avoid speaking about it or not raise awareness would come with even more significant harm to society’s most vulnerable; we, collectively need to put a stop to this crime where children and young people under 18 are abused sexually by criminals. 

It’s sexual exploitation where a child or young person might be given things, like gifts, drugs, money, status and affection, in exchange for performing sexual activities. Detrimentally most children and young people are tricked into believing they are in a loving and consensual relationship with the abuse. 

CSE can be perpetrated by grooming gangs, but it isn’t only a “real life” crime; increasingly, the crime is committed online. Whether the abuse is online or in person, it is JUST as devasting to the survivors.

Warning Signs

  • Increasingly withdrawing or being isolated from their usual friends and family.
  • Being taken to clubs and hotels by adults
  • Teenage pregnancy by an adult
  • Going missing from home
  • Coming home late or being away overnight without saying where they’ve been.
  • Being secretive or defensive about who they’re seeing or what they are doing.
  • Being involved in sexting or webcam use
  • Drink and drugs; developing a dependency, experimenting
  • Getting involved with groups of (older) adults; either as “friends” or “boyfriends/girlfriends”
  • Changing the way they dress; overly sexual.
  • Showing knowledge of streets, areas, towns, and cities, they have no reason to know.
  • Finding it difficult to reach, talk to or engage with usual friends and family.
  • Getting into cars with (unknown) adults.
  • Unexplained possessions (phones, clothing, money, drugs)

It is important to remember that children and young people are not at fault for this heinous crime and that it affects both girls and boys. For those affected by this story, please know support is out there for you; people do care, whether you are going through it now or have been in the past, contact us!

Are you affected and need help? Remember you’re not alone; it is not your fault!

If you are suspicious call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Need advice as a parent or guardian because you are concerned, visit


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