What is Child Sexual Exploitation? 

Child sexual exploitation is a form of child sexual abuse. It occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into sexual activity (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or (b) for the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator. The victim may have been sexually exploited even if the sexual activity appears consensual. Child sexual exploitation does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur through the use of technology.

CSE can occur through the use of technology without the child’s immediate recognition, for example the persuasion to post sexual images on the internet/mobile phones with no immediate payment or gain. In all cases those exploiting the child/young person have power over them by virtue of their age, gender, intellect, physical strength and /or economic or other resources.

There are 3 important and recognisable elements of child sexual exploitation:

  • Children are ‘groomed’ and there is power and control held by the perpetrator/s
  • An ‘exchange’ (such as gift, food, money, drugs etc.) is present, this could be to a third party and not always to the child themselves.
  • Sexual acts or the exchange of sexual images is present.

Avon and Somerset Constabulary have developed a campaign strategy to raise awareness of Child Sexual Exploitation. The first part of this strategy is aimed at raising awareness by targeting information at practitioner groups and has been developed using victim’s voices to inform its key messages. The campaign call to action is:

– Ask. Ask me again. Keep asking…
– CSE is happening

These posters are aimed at raising awareness of CSE with practitioners, and are therefore not designed to be displayed in public waiting areas etc.  Please ensure that the posters are displayed appropriately and to the intended audiences (e.g. staff coffee rooms, offices).


Remember always refer to the Effective Support for Children and Families to aid your decision making!

This section aims to provide practitioners with a range of resources to help when dealing with sexual exploitation issues regarding children and young people.

There is lots of guidance available on the web, if you use anything that you find particularly useful and you feel would be useful for other practitioners, please email details to: 

SSCB Team – LSCB@somerset.gov.uk

Don’t forget, always use the Effective Support for Children and Families document to help inform your decision making!


This section aims to provide practitioners with resources suitable for children and young people, and parents/carers to find out more about child sexual exploitation and associated issues.

Resources for Children/Young People

Barnardo’s BASE project – The Bristol BASE (Barnardo’s Against Sexual Exploitation) Hub and Spokes Project works with children and young people across our local region providing specialist sexual exploitation work.

The Survivor Pathway – The survivor pathway is primarily a guide for anyone wanting to know more about specialist sexual violence services.

Somerset Survivors – information on other services which can offer support and advice regarding domestic abuse and sexual violence, together with those which can help with related issues.

Unseen – An organisation working towards a world without slavery.

Thinkuknow – Come in to find the latest information on the sites you like to visit, mobiles and new technology. Find out what’s good, what’s not and what you can do about it.

Barnardo’s Be Aware – So be aware, stay alert and keep safe – use our top tips to protect yourself from exploitation.

Stop CSE.org – Join us in the fight against Child Sexual Exploitation.

Resources for Parents/Carers

PaceUK – Pace is the leading national charity working with parents and carers of sexually exploited children.

MOSAC – Mosac is a voluntary organisation supporting all non-abusing parents and carers whose children have been sexually abused. We provide various types of support services and information for parents, carers and professionals dealing with child sexual abuse.

Thinkuknow/Parents – Protect your children from abuse online, help your children get the most out of the internet, keep your children safe

Barnardo’s spot the signs – Sexual exploitation affects thousands of children and young people every year. By knowing the tell-tale signs, we can all play an important role in reducing that number.

Barnado’s spot the signs parents’ leaflet – What can I do as a parent or a carer?

Stop it Now! – Stop it Now! UK and Ireland is at the forefront of activity to prevent child sexual abuse. Campaigning and awareness-raising are essential tasks for local, regional and national projects in order to empower and enable adults to address personal, family and community concerns.

CSE Risk Assessment Tool

This is risk assessment that you can use to help you decide whether a child or young person may be at risk of child sexual exploitation (CSE).

This assessment is to be used when working with Children and Young People up to their 18th birthday. You should be aware that:

  • Young people aged over 16 can still be at risk of / or experience child sexual exploitation
  • Where a child is under the age of 13 years old, and /or has a learning disability and there are concerns regarding sexual exploitation, a referral to Children’s Social Work Services is required

This should be used to make an initial judgement about the level of risk of sexual exploitation for the child or young person and what actions are required. It is to assist you in assessing the risk of Sexual Exploitation; and is not intended to be a referral form.

CSE Screening Tool

The purpose of the screening tool is to enable professionals to assess a child’s level of risk of child sexual exploitation (CSE) in a quick and consistent manner. The screening tool can be applied to all children (male and female) under the age of 18 years. This Screening toolkit is to be used by anyone who has a concern that a child may be being sexually exploited.