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Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)

Definition

Sexual exploitation is child abuse and children and young people who become involved face risks to their physical, emotional and psychological health and well being. Any young person could become a victim of child sexual exploitation. 

The crime affects both girls and boys, from any background and of any ethnicity. It is the organised and deliberate exploitation of a child purely for the sexual gratification of adults.

There are three main types of CSE

  • Inappropriate relationships – this usually involves one perpetrator who has inappropriate power or control over a young person.  There is often a significant age gap and the victim may believe they are in a loving relationship.

  • ‘Boyfriend’ model – the perpetrator befriends and grooms the young person into a ‘relationship’ and then convinces or forces them to have sex with friends or associates.  This is sometimes associated with gang activity. Peer exploitation is where young people are forced or coerced into sexual activity by peers and associates. Sometimes this can be associated with gang activity, but not always.
  • Organised sexual exploitation – young people are passed through networks, possibly over geographical distances, where they are forced into sexual activity with multiple men.  This often occurs at ‘sex parties’ and the young people may be used to recruit others into the network. Some of this activity is described as serious organised crime and can involve the organised ‘buying and selling’ of young people by perpetrators.

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Know the signs

Even something that seems like normal teenage behaviour could be a sign that a child is being sexually exploited. Some of the visible signs that family members or people who know young people might identify are:

  • Regularly missing from home or school and staying out all night
  • Change in behaviour – becoming aggressive and disruptive or quiet and withdrawn.
  • Unexplained gifts or new possessions such as clothes, jewellery, mobile phones or money that can’t be accounted for.
  • Increase in mobile phone use or secretive use
  • Appearing to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Being picked up or dropped off in cars by unknown adults
  • A significantly older ‘boyfriend’ or ‘friend’ or lots of new friends
  • Spending excessive amount of time online and becoming increasingly secretive about time spent online
  • Sudden involvement in criminal behaviour or increased offending
  • Sexual health problems

Members of the public and those in Service industries such as taxi drivers, hoteliers and food outlets might notice signs like:

  • being taken into a hotel room by one or more adults who do not seem to be family members
  • being in a hotel room which is visited or requested by a number of additional adults
  • going by taxi to a hotel or other venue to meet a group of adults who do not seem to be family members
  • being out late with older adults who do not seem to be family members
  • being bought alcoholic drinks by adults
  • being in the company of adults who are known or suspected of being involved in adult prostitution
  • being bought food or drinks by a much older adult whom they seem to see as a boyfriend / girlfriend
  • indications of sexual activity with one or more adult who is significantly older than the young person
  • indications of sexual activity involving a young person who you know or suspect to be under 16

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What to do

In an emergency or if a crime is ongoing always dial 999.

If you have any concerns that a child you know may be a victim of Child Sexual Exploitation report it to:

  • Dorset Police by calling 101 or
  • you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111

If you have any concerns about people who pose a risk to, or target, groom or sexually abuse young people please use the CSE information sharing form.

Alternatively, talk to someone who works with them, such as their teacher, pastoral support worker, a youth worker or social worker.

You can also call or email your local Police Safeguarding Unit to discuss any concerns or questions you have with one of our specialist staff on the contact details above.

Resources

Other resources available from charities and agencies that can help include:

The drive to reduce child sexual exploitation is co-ordinated by the Bournemouth and Poole Safeguarding Children Board and the Dorset Safeguarding Children Board and the agencies that form their membership.

Pan-Dorset Inter-agency Safeguarding Procedures include a Chapter about child sexual exploitation. 

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