Child Sexual Exploitation

Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a type of sexual abuse.  It occurs when  an individual or group takes advantage of a power imbalance to manipulate a child into sexual activity.


Child sexual exploitation is a form of child sexual abuse. It occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into sexual activity (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or (b) for the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator. The victim may have been sexually exploited even if the sexual activity appears consensual. Child sexual exploitation does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur through the use of technology.  

(DfE, 2017) 

CSE can happen in person or in the online world.   An online abuser will manipulate a child to control their behaviour, perhaps tricking them into sharing explicit images, video, or into sexually motivated conversations.   Online abuse can transfer to the ‘real world’ as abusers blackmail or manipulate children into meeting with them.   

CSE can happen in connection with gang activity; gangs can use sexual exploitation to exert dominance, power and control or to initiate a child/young person into the group.  Sexual exploitation can also be used as a weapon.  

CSE can happen where children believe they are in a ‘relationship’ with an older person.  Children and young people can believe that they are consenting to sexual activity when they are actually being exploited.  

CSE can affect boys or girls, children with additional needs are recognised as particularly vulnerable. 

CSE does not discriminate – victims and perpetrators can be of any gender, religion, ethnicity and age.  

Children who are reported missing from home are known to be particularly at risk of CSE, and other forms of child exploitation.   All children who are reported missing in Hillingdon are provided with a Return Home Interview, this gives them an opportunity to talk about any worries or concerns that they may have, and allows parents and professionals to take steps to ensure their welfare and safety. 

If you are concerned about your own behaviour towards children or young people you can contact the Lucy Faithfull Foundation.