Advice for Schools

Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a form of sexual abuse where children (under 18) and their naivety are exploited. The exploitation can often involve young people being tricked or coerced into thinking they’re in loving relationships or made to feel special by being treated as an adult and taken to clubs, bars and parties, given alcohol or drugs to reduce their inhibitions before being coerced or forced into sexual activity with one, or often more, adults.

Definition of CSE


Schools and their staff are in the unique position of seeing children daily to be able to spot changes in appearance, behaviour and attitude; whilst also being able to teach and offer guidance around making good decisions or choices and helping to explore what positive relationships might look like. Parents also often turn to school for guidance on how to respond to situations. So schools can be part of the prevention, protective and support processes for children.


Victims of CSE often share some circumstances, behaviours, or vulnerabilities; these make up the indicator list in the Risk Assessment Matrix used by the Derby and Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Boards (SCB) which is part of a CSE Toolkit available in the Child Protection Procedures at or

It is worthwhile all staff being aware of these indicators and how they suggest levels of risk, as many of them can be described as normal teenage behaviours, but when combined, raise levels of concern around CSE.

The risk assessment matrix must be used in all cases where CSE is a concern, whether you complete it or the school’s Designated Safeguarding Lead does, it is important other agencies contribute to the assessment to get the fuller picture. There is no harm done if the assessment tool is used whenever school complete any assessment of a child with additional or emerging need. When children display disruptive behaviours, change their attitude towards school or seek to get themselves excluded there is often a reason why, that reason may be CSE and their behaviour a response to the trauma that results. When concerns are identified the DSCB procedures are clear about responding to all levels of risk, when concern is to be shared with Social Care and who to consult if you are unsure of risk levels.

If a pupil chooses to disclose that something is happening to them it is important that their disclosure is not met with shock or disgust, that you remain calm and reassuring, confirming they have done the right thing sharing and that you must share with the appropriate people. You should not question them for more detail or start an investigation, but listen and let them tell you what they want to tell, before you share with others and follow the DSCB reporting procedures. Don’t forget to make a written record of what you were told.

Remember: Children who have been groomed may not recognise what is happening as abuse or dangerous, they may reject offers of help and see themselves as being in a loving relationship.

Helping to prevent CSE

Schools, their workforce, volunteers and governors can promote healthy relationships in all they do through role modelling, guidance, setting expectations, displaying posters and materials, as well as direct teaching, including sessions for parents around linked subjects of e-safety, anti-bullying and child protection including CSE. Important messages can be delivered to all ages using age/stage appropriate language and materials to consider issues of personal safety, appropriate touching, risk taking, bullying, e-safety and accessing support when in difficulty.

Secondary schools can develop these messages through PHSE lessons covering a wider array of related issues including healthy relationships, gender difference, domestic and sexual violence, cyber-bullying, risk and consequences, danger and responses; or school may simply call it Sex & Relationship Education (SRE) and facilitate discussions about positive and abusive relationships, consent, peer pressures, sexual health, impact of sexual imagery (pornography), or ‘sexting’.

Cruel Kindness resource

Schools may choose to have whole school awareness raising with running themes across a variety of subject lessons and assemblies, such as the annual Safer Internet Day organised by UK Safer Internet Centre and CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre).

Working in partnership

Working together to safeguard children has been the title of government guidance for many years now, but the message in the title is as important as ever, particularly around CSE. No school is going to be able to tackle the issue on its own, and no community is going to tackle the issue without the help of schools. Multi-agency working and information sharing is key to understanding what is happening for individuals and for communities.

Remember, safeguarding concern overrides issues of confidentiality and data protection; no one has been in trouble for sharing too much with appropriate agencies in safeguarding situations. It is important you know how to access DSCB procedures online to understand your role in the multi-agency approach, and that you have read part one of Keeping Children Safe in Education.

Parents and families are other partners that can contribute to the prevention messages and risk reduction plans. Victims of CSE come from all sections of our communities; a child involved in CSE is not necessarily a reflection of any problem parenting. Families may have the other piece of information that reassures or confirms concern you have. Don’t be afraid to share your concerns with them early, unless sharing may put the child at greater risk.

Derbyshire Police are collating intelligence about all kinds of CSE concerns of those at risk and potential perpetrators. Staff, volunteers and even the public should complete an Operation Liberty Information Report Form and send it through to the police. Even if you are unsure of the facts or have a ‘gut feeling’ you can still send a report but be clear it is your feeling/opinion not fact you are sharing. The Report Form is part of the CSE Toolkit found on the Safeguarding Children Board’s website or

If you believe a child is at immediate risk and in need of protection – dial 999 immediately.

If you have less urgent concerns consult the safeguarding procedures on the websites above.

Please do not keep your worries to yourself

If you would like further support, guidance, advice or training on anything mentioned above, please complete the form below and one of the team will get back to you to discuss your requirements in more detail.

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