What is child sexual exploitation

Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is child abuse, with those children and young people who become involved facing significant risks to their physical, emotional and psychological health and wellbeing. CSE is a hidden issue taking place out of public view.

Sexual exploitation of children and young people under 18 involves exploitative situations, contexts and relationships where the young person (or third person/s) receive ‘something’ (e.g., food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, affection, gifts, money) as a result of them performing, and/or another or others performing on them, sexual activities.

CSE can occur through the use of technology without the child’s immediate recognition; for example being persuaded to post sexual images on the internet/mobile phones without immediate payment or gain.

Violence, coercion and intimidation are common. Involvement in exploitative relationships is characterised by the child or young person’s limited availability of choice resulting from their social, economic or emotional vulnerability.

A common feature of CSE is that the child or young person does not recognise the coercive nature of the relationship and does not see himself or herself as a victim of exploitation. Perpetrators of CSE can be from within or from outside a child or young person’s family.

CSE also needs to be understood in terms of its connectivity with a wider range of vulnerabilities that young people can be exposed to. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Harmful sexual behaviours
  • Missing children
  • Gang involvement
  • Domestic violence
  • Radicalisation
  • Youth crime 
  • Mental health

The link between children being sexually exploited and children going missing is very strong. Some 140,000 children go missing from home or care in the UK each year and it has been estimated that running away places around a quarter of these at risk of serious harm. Children and young people who run away may be ‘pushed away’ following abuse or other factors or ‘pulled away’ wanting to be near friends or because they are being exploited by adults.

Child sexual exploitation definition and guidance 

The Department for Education (DfE) has published a definition of child sexual exploitation (CSE) and a guide for practitioners and managers. February 2017 .

Local Bromley information and protocols

The Bromley Safeguarding Childrens Board are developing our understanding of the local problem profile in Bromley, although there are some key indicators that all professionals and volunteers working with children and young people should be alert to:

Spot The Signs is a handy one page summary for everyone in Bromley

Operation Makesafe - for use by all licensed premises, taxi firms, hotels off licenses, pubs and nightclubs in Bromley. 

Bromley Child Sexual Exploitation Protocol (July 2017)

Please visit Bromley Children Safeguarding Board for further advice and resources relating to CSE