What is CSE?

Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a form of sexual, emotional and physical abuse of children.

It can be difficult to recognise the warning signs of child sexual exploitation, as they are similar to the challenges that all parents of adolescent or near-adolescent children face.

As a rough guide, child sexual exploitation can be defined in the following terms:

  • A person under 18 is sexually exploited when they are coerced into sexual activities by one or more person(s) who have deliberately targeted their youth and inexperience in order to exercise power over them.
  • The process often involves a stage of ‘grooming’, in which the child might receive something (such as a mobile phone, clothes, drugs or alcohol, attention or affection) prior to, or as a result of, performing sexual activities, or having sexual activities performed on them.
  • Child sexual exploitation may occur through the use of technology without the child’s consent or immediate recognition; for example through being persuaded to post sexual images over the internet or via mobile phone.
  • Child sexual exploitation is often conducted with actual violence or the threat of violence. This may be threats towards the child, or her or his family and may prevent the child from disclosing the abuse, or exiting the cycle of exploitation. Indeed, the child may be so confused by the process, that they do not perceive any abuse at all.

If your child is affected, then it is also important to remember:

  • It’s not your fault. Child sexual exploitation happens to girls and boys from all types of family.
  • You are not alone – many parents have gone through what you are going through and do understand.
  • Pace is here to support you and enable you get the service you are entitled to keep your child safe.

Who is responsible for CSE?

Perpetrators of child sexual exploitation come from all ages and backgrounds and both sexes, although the majority are men. Children may be sexually exploited by an individual, or by a group of people connected through formal networks (ie through trade, business or other community networks) or more informal friendship groups. Children are also sexually exploited by gangs with criminal associations. In these cases, the gang may benefit financially from the sexual exploitation.