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Child sexual exploitation

Warning triangle

Child sexual exploitation should be a concern for everyone. It happens all across the country and is not limited to any particular geography, ethnicity, or social background.

How to report concerns

There are dedicated teams of people from many different organisations working together to help victims escape the cycle of abuse.

In Preston, this is the Deter Team who can be contacted by:

Anyone with concerns about child sexual exploitation can contact police on 101. In an emergency always dial 999.

What is child sexual exploitation?

Child Sexual Exploitation or CSE involves a child receiving something for performing sexual acts or allowing others to perform sexual acts on them. The sorts of gifts the child may be offered includes cigarettes, food, accommodation, alcohol, money. They may be also be shown affection as part of the grooming for sexual exploitation.

Anyone under the age of 18 is legally a child and no child can legally consent to their own abuse, even if they are 16 or 17.

A person who sexually exploits a child (the perpetrator) has power and control because they are either older, physically stronger, have greater knowledge, greater experience or more money. Grooming and exploitation of children takes different forms and it can be carried out by lone perpetrators groups, or gangs. Sometimes it is carried out for financial gain.

CSE is complex and does not fit one model and sometimes children do not realise or accept they are a victim or at risk of CSE. Focussing on one stereotype of CSE may divert attention away from crimes which don't fit the model and leave victims without the help and support they need.

It is essential that parents, carers and professionals working with children are aware of the indicators that a child is at risk of being harmed, however everyone in the community has an important part to play. The harm caused can have a devastating effect on the child and their family for many years and the sooner we act the greater the chance we have of preventing CSE.

Reporting concerns to the right people at the right time is very important.

Please raise your concerns even if you are a little bit unsure about whether it is CSE.

Trained professionals will be able to act on your report to ask the right questions, protect children from harm and bring offenders to justice.

Indicators of grooming and exploitation

A child or young person has:

  • Received unexplained gifts or money
  • Uses their mobile phone secretively
  • Has significantly older friends
  • Has been picked up from home or school by someone you don't know
  • Is associating with other young people who are already known to be vulnerable or involved in exploitation
  • Has started playing truant from school or regularly going missing from home
  • Has suffered from a sexually-transmitted infection
  • Is self-harming
  • Has changed their appearance

A child or young person may be at greater risk of exploitation if:

  • They come from a chaotic or dysfunctional household
  • Lack friends in the same age group
  • Is confused about their sexuality
  • Has known domestic abuse or neglect
  • Has learning disabilities
  • Has come into contact with other exploited youngsters, e.g. at school
  • Has suffered a recent bereavement or loss
  • Is homeless or living in residential care, a hostel or bed and breakfast
  • Has low self-esteem or confidence
  • Is a young carer
  • Lives in a neighbourhood where there are gangs

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