Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a form of child abuse where young people under the age of 18 are manipulated or forced into performing or taking part in sexual activities for which they, or someone else, receives some form of benefit. This could be food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, money, gifts or affection.*
Although some children are more vulnerable than others, any child could be a victim of sexual exploitation, regardless of their background, upbringing, race, ethnicity, sexuality or gender. The young person affected may believe that they are in a loving, consensual relationship when in fact they are being exploited.
Child sexual exploitation can begin without the victim’s knowledge. This is known as grooming. For example, a young person may be persuaded to post or send sexual photographs on the internet or via mobile phones without receiving any benefit themselves.
In all cases of child sexual exploitation, those doing the exploiting have power or influence over their victim. This can be due to a difference in age, gender, intelligence, wealth or physical strength.
*Our definition comes from the 2011 guidance from the Government Department for Education.