Last Updated on 28th September 2023

Today marks the National Child Exploitation Awareness day. 

Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility. We all have a role to play in raising awareness about all forms of exploitation to enable safeguarding professionals, the public, parents/carers and children and young people to recognise the signs of exploitation 

What is Child Sexual Exploitation?  

Child sexual exploitation is a type of sexual abuse which can happen to any child. It happens when grooming behaviours are used alongside the promise of money, gifts, affection, protection or status in exchange for sexual activity with one or more person 

Anyone can be a perpetrator of child sexual exploitation regardless of their age, gender, class or ethnicity. In some cases, perpetrators will use positions of trust to access, or normalise sexual activity with vulnerable children and young people 

CSE can happen both on and offline and is often combined with other forms of abuse including threatsphysical violence and psychological manipulation.

In many cases children and young people may respect, trust or bond with their abuser. This can make detection and disclosures of abuse complex because children may not understand or recognise the exploitation as abuse.  

Responding to Child Sexual Exploitation

By understanding and recognising the signs of child sexual exploitation, you will be better equipped to identify and respond to instances of exploitation.  

All children can be at risk of sexual exploitationHowever, male children can be overlooked as victims, largely due to gender dynamics and our expectations of their behaviour 

Although the signs of exploitation among boys and girls can be similar, our expectations of their behaviour can greatly influence how we respond to these signs.  

Advice in a series of Videos

We spoke with Dr Jacqui Montgomery – Devlin, a CSE specialist, based in Northern Ireland. Based on her safeguarding research and experience, you can find a series of videos that will support your efforts to protect the children and young people in your care. 

An Introduction

Learn more about Child Sexual Exploitation and how you can protect the children and young people in your care.

Child Sexual Exploitation: A Gendered Lens

Understand how our expectations of gender behaviours can be a barrier to recognising Child Sexual Exploitation.

Challenging Assumptions & Supporting Disclosures

Find out how you can challenge assumptions and create a supportive relationship to support children to disclose exploitation.

How to recognise the signs of CSE Advice for Foster Carers

Hear advice for foster carers on how to recognise and seek support if they suspect Child Sexual Exploitation.

Barriers to Recognising Male Child Sexual Exploitation

Learn more about the barriers that can prevent you from recognising Child Sexual Exploitation among boys.

Male Child Sexual Exploitation: Advice for Professionals

Hear how professionals can create an enabling environment for young people to disclose exploitation and abuse.

Advice for Professionals When Working with Male Victims of CSE

Find out how professionals can work together to tackle the issue and best support male victims of Child Sexual Exploitation.


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