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Older Boyfriend/Girlfriend This is where a single offender befriends a young person and makes them think they are in a caring relationship in order to sexually exploit them. 

Peer on Peer This can be where young people are tricked, manipulated or forced into sexual activity by people of a similar age.

Familial Where a young person is exploited by a member of their own family.

Online Grooming and sexual exploitation take place completely online with the young person and the offender never meeting. 

Abuse of authority  Somebody in a position of authority over the young person uses that position in order to sexually exploit them.

Groups Where a group of people working together to groom and sexually exploit young people. They may be forced to have sex with multiple adults.

Gangs - Sexual exploitation can also be used as a form of punishment or as an initiation into a street gang. 

Child sexual exploitation (CSE) can affect any child and young person, regardless of their background, culture, gender, age or ethnicity.

It is a type of abuse in which children are sexually exploited for money, power or status.
It sees children and young people under 18 involved in exploitative situations, contexts and relationships where the young person receives something (e.g. accommodation, drugs, alcohol, affection, gifts) as a result of them performing, and/or another performing on them, sexual activities.

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


The offenders, who sometimes work in groups, are organised and deliberate in their actions and use sophisticated tactics. 

Grooming can take place in many forms both online using social media, via mobile phones, or in person.

Often the grooming starts with friendship or a relationship.  The victim may be misguided in to thinking the adult is their boyfriend / girlfriend.  The offender may supply gifts such clothes, money, mobiles phones or other presents.  They may also supply drugs and alcohol. Sometimes the victims are given lifts and transported around.

Over time, the offender will usually encourage the child to distance themselves from their usual family and friends.

Soon in to the friendship / relationship, sexual assault or rape may occur.  The victim may feel they have to have sex because they are in a relationship or because they feel threatened or frightened.  Sex may involve one person or they may be forced to have sex with several adults or be passed around the group.

The child may not always realise they are being groomed and may even believe they are a willing participant, when they are anything but.


You can play your part in helping to tackle CSE by learning how to spot the signs. The signs listed below aren't exhaustive. What's important is that if you do notice something unusual in a young person, you speak out. Take a moment to learn the signs below and find out how you can report a concern.