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What is CSE?

Parents Line


What is CSE?

Parents Line

Child Sexual Exploitation or CSE is a term that has been mentioned a lot in the media recently. It’s not always easy to define though, so here’s a little video to help explain what it is.

The animation describes Child Sexual Exploitation as being when a child or young person is used, by being made or tricked into doing something sexual. Often they receive something in return like love, affection, money, gifts, drugs, alcohol or somewhere to stay. It can be done in person, online or with a mixture of both.

Children of all backgrounds, gender and ethnicities can be at risk.

Those tricking or using the young person can also be from all types of backgrounds and can be any age, gender and ethnicity. They might be on their own or part of a group and can do it in real life or online.

What they do have in common though is they often have power over young people – being older, having money, being physically stronger, being popular or having something young people want like drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and entry to pubs, clubs and parties.

One reason child sexual exploitation can be difficult to define is that it can look very different in each situation. Barnardo’s has identified different types of exploitation and how children and young people might be groomed into them.

Boy/Girl/Best Friend:

This is when an adult befriends and grooms a child into a close relationship. This might be as a boy/girl friend or just a best mate. To start with this feels positive and rewarding for the child, they are often given alcohol, gifts and treated like an adult. But the relationship can then become abusive and the child may be forced or manipulated into sexual activity with the adults or their ‘friends’. The child might be told they need to have sex to prove their ‘love’, or told they need to have sex to pay for the gifts, alcohol or drugs they have been given.


This is when an adult befriends a child and builds their trust over the internet. They can sometimes conceal their true age, gender and identity. They might try and meet up with the child face to face or may coerce them to send sexual images/videos of themselves- sometimes offering compliments, game codes or gifts in return.


This type of exploitation can happen very quickly, without any grooming. Children who are visibly vulnerable are more likely to be targeted. Children who go missing, are out late at night or go to adult environments, might be at risk. Children can be offered accommodation, money, lifts, drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, etc, in exchange for sexual activity.

Peer Exploitation:

This can often be referred to as ‘sexual bullying’ and occurs from other young people. It can often happen quite publically and images and videos are often circulated around school and their peers.

Organised exploitation:

This is when networks of perpetrators work together, possibly across different areas, to coerce or force children to have sex with multiple adults. This can often happen through organised parties where children are invited to parties and offered drinks, drugs, and lifts for free. The children are introduced to a culture where sexual promiscuity and taking drugs are normalised and expected. Children might be encouraged to bring their friends to these parties.