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Child Sexual Exploitation

Sexual exploitation is a form of sexual abuse, in which a young person is manipulated or forced into taking part in a sexual act. This could be as part of what seems to be a consensual relationship, or it could be in return for attention, affection, money, drugs, alcohol or somewhere to stay. 

The young person may think that their abuser is their friend, boyfriend or girlfriend, but the abuser will put them into dangerous situations, forcing the child or young person to do things that they don't want to do. The abuser could threaten them or be violent towards them.

Northamptonshire Police and Northamptonshire Safeguarding Children Board (NSCB) are running a joint campaign raising awareness of CSE – How to identify it and how to report it.

Northamptonshire Safeguarding Children Partnership

Signs of CSE can be difficult to identify, varying greatly, but can include:

  • going missing from home or care
  • physical injuries
  • misuse of drugs or alcohol
  • involvement in offending
  • repeat sexually-transmitted infections, pregnancies or terminations
  • absenteeism from school
  • deterioration in physical appearance
  • evidence of online sexual bullying
  • evidence of vulnerability on social networking sites
  • emotional distance from family members
  • receiving gifts from unknown sources
  • recruiting others into exploitative situations
  • poor mental health
  • self-harming
  • thinking about or attempting suicide
  • involvement with gangs, gang fights, gang membership
  • involved in abusive relationships, intimidated and fearful of certain people or situations.

Please also see the NSPCC site for more indicators:


Leaflet – Barnardo’s Child sexual Exploitation – Guide for parents & carers


A new national helpline for young people to call or text if they have concerns about friends or even themselves – it’s free, anonymous and is open 24 hours, 365 days per year:  Call or text 116 000
Police:  call 999 or 101
Safeguarding Hub:  0300 126 7000

What is 'grooming'?

The process known as 'grooming' is designed to isolate the child, break down the relationship with parents, carers and friends and so make the child easier to manipulate.

Signs of 'grooming' can be hard to spot. Children may:

·        be very secretive, including about what they are doing online
·        have money, cigarettes and new things such as clothes or mobile phones that they can't or won't explain
·        go to unusual places to meet friends
·        have access to drugs and alcohol.

 In older children, signs of grooming can easily be mistaken for 'normal' teenage behaviour, but you may notice unexplained changes in behaviour or personality, or inappropriate sexual behaviour for their age.

Download the 'Tackling CSE Toolkit' for parents and carers

NSCB has produced a 'toolkit' to help parents and carers recognise Child Sexual Exploitation and provide them with practical advice on how to keep their children safe. 

The toolkit is a document divided into chapters. For parents and carers, they recommend reading chapter 1 and chapter 8 of the toolkit, these can be downloaded below:

CSE Toolkit

Further information can be found on Barnado’s website - Barnado's - CSE

Further help can be found at the following:

Call or text 116 000 - young people's CSE helpline

This is a new national helpline for young people to call or text if they have concerns for themselves or a friend about child sexual exploitation: 116 000. It's free, anonymous and open 24 hours, 365 days per year.