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Child sexual exploitation

Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is when people use the power they have over young people to sexually abuse them. Their power may result from a difference in age, gender, understanding, strength, money or other means.  

People often think of child sexual exploitation in terms of serious organised crime, but it also covers abuse in relationships and may involve informal exchanges of sex for something a child wants or needs, such as accommodation, gifts, cigarettes, alcohol or attention. Some children are "groomed" and then forced into having sex with friends or associates. 

What to do 

If you are concerned that a child is being sexually exploited, contact the police's child protection department immediately on 0300 333 3000. By law, sex with children under 16 is never consensual. 

If you are concerned that a child is at risk of being sexually exploited, please contact Herefordshire Council: 

  • Call the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) on 01432 260800

What to do if you are concerned about a friend?

If you're concerned a friend or another child or young person may be putting themselves at risk of CSE then it's really important to let someone know. You can either talk to a teacher at school or contact ChildLine.  

Help and support is available

It's important to know that help, advice and someone to talk to are available. The following websites provide some very helpful information, as well as where you can get the support and help you need and how you can keep yourself safe from the dangers of CSE:

  • West Mercia Rape & Sexual Abuse Support Centre offer free, confidential and non-judgemental support for those who've experienced rape, assault, incest, sexual abuse, sexual harassment or any form of sexual attack, whether physical, verbal or emotional.

  • West Mercia Police have some some useful information about child sexual exploitation.

  • Visit NHS Choices for information on how to spot child sexual exploitation.

  • The NSPCC has a range of information on child sexual exploitation, including information about trafficking and young people in gangs.

  • PACE is the leading national charity working with parents and carers of sexually exploited children.

  • Barnardo’s also provides a range of information on CSE.

  • The Brook Clinic has some useful information on spotting the signs of CSE.

  • The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) is the UK's law enforcement agency dedicated to tackling sexual exploitation of children and also provides education and awareness resources aimed at children and young people on the Thinkuknow website.

  • Stop It Now! is a confidential helpline for anyone with concerns about child sexual abuse.