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Child Sexual Exploitation

Information about child sexual exploitation and prevention advice.

What is Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)

Child Sexual Exploitation, or CSE, is the sexual abuse of a child or young person aged under 18 by an adult who involves them in inappropriate sexual activities either with themselves or another person. The activity often takes place in exchange for money, alcohol, drugs, food, accommodation or presents such as clothing or mobile phones, and victims can be targeted in person or online.

Online grooming is a type of CSE that impacts both boys and girls across Surrey. It can be initiated through social media, gaming, chatrooms or other online communication. Online grooming can take a number of forms including children being exploited for indecent images or videos by adults, peer on peer sharing of indecent images, and the online grooming moving into a face-to-face situation

CSE can occur through the use of technology without the child's immediate recognition; for example being persuaded to post images on the internet or using mobile phones.

A common feature is that the child or young person does not recognise the coercive nature of the relationship and does not see themselves as a victim of exploitation. Violence, coercion and intimidation are common. Victims are often targeted because they are already vulnerable in some other way.

Read more about internet safety tips and keeping children safe online.

Could you be a victim?

If you are worried that you may be being exploited, or you feel uncomfortable or worried about anything happening in your life, tell someone that you can trust today. Our officers are always willing to listen to you – it doesn’t matter what the crime is, or how minor or serious you think it is. If you feel you can tell us about it, we will take action to bring offenders to justice and also offer you as much support as possible.

The signs of CSE

If you are a parent or guardian, social care or health care professional, teacher or youth worker; you have an important role in recognising the signs that someone might be being sexually exploited, and protecting that child or young person: (note this not an exhaustive list)

  • Unexplained gifts
  • Expensive belongings - clothes or mobile phones, for example - and habits such as alcohol and drugs which cost money the child is not likely to have access to
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Going missing, running away or homelessness
    Being absent and truanting from school or showing signs of disengagement or considerable change in performance
  • Getting into or out of different vehicles
  • Being spotted at known places of concern
  • Unexplained changes in behaviour, temperament or personality (e.g. chaotic, aggressive, sexual, mood swings)
  • Inappropriate sexual behaviour/over familiar with strangers or sending sexualised images via the internet or mobile phones
  • Association with older men, older people, anti-social groups and other vulnerable peers
  • Being involved in abusive relationships, feeling intimidated and fearful of certain people or situations
  • Gang fighting, affiliation with gangs and contact with known perpetrators
  • Involvement with the police, offending and criminal activity
  • Changes in physical appearance (losing weight, being malnourished)
  • Self-harming, demonstrating suicidal thoughts and tendencies, overdosing on substances or eating disorders
  • Injuries from physical assault, physical restraint or sexual assault
  • Repeat sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, abortion or miscarriage.

Reducing the opportunity for child sexual exploitation

We are tackling child sexual exploitation by:

  • Targeting paedophiles who sexually abuse and groom children and young people online
  • Tackling offenders who use the internet to obtain and distribute indecent images of children
  • Managing registered sexual offenders to prevent them from committing further crimes against children online
  • Delivering educational talks to hotel staff, local school teachers and children’s home managers on how to spot the signs a child may be a victim of CSE
  • Ongoing awareness training for officers and police staff of the key signs and vulnerabilities of CSE
  • Close partnership work with local councils, Local Safeguarding Children's
  • Boards, housing providers, social services, youth services, the voluntary sector and many other organisations to manage known sex offenders and safeguard vulnerable young people
  • Specialist police officers trained to investigate missing person reports and coordinate activity to locate them - in the case of CSE, those young people who regularly go missing or absent from home or care
  • Long-term youth engagement to involve vulnerable young people in positive activities, such as sport or voluntary work, alongside police and partner agencies.