Child Sexual Exploitation


Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) is something that can affect any child, anytime, anywhere – regardless of their social or ethnic background.

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It involves offenders grooming youngsters and using their power to sexually abuse them. 

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 in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or 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.

Suffolk Constabulary and our partner agencies are committed to tackling child sexual exploitation by:

  • preventing abuse
  • protecting children and young people at risk
  • identifying offenders and bringing them to justice
  • educating parents, children and professionals about the dangers of child sexual exploitation and the warning signs to look out for.  

Many young people who are being abused don’t realise they are at risk and won’t ask for help. They see themselves as willing participants when in fact their behaviour is anything but consenting.


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What we know about offenders
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Offenders come from many different social and ethnic backgrounds but they all have one thing in common – they are abusing young people and are using their status or position to exploit vulnerable victims.

We will continue to target and prosecute offenders to confirm that this type of behaviour is unacceptable. It is criminal, and we will pursue those people involved and bring them to justice, irrespective of their backgrounds.

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

You can find out if a person has a record for child sexual offences here.

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Warning Signs
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While any child can be at risk, some young people are more at risk than others and there are warning signs in children’s behaviour which could indicate something is wrong:

  • Has the young person received unexplained gifts or money?
  • Do they use their mobile phone secretly?
  • Do they have significantly older friends?
  • Have they been picked up from home or school by someone you don’t know?
  • Are they associating with other young people who are already known to be vulnerable or involved in sexual exploitation?
  • Have they started playing truant from school, staying out late at night or go missing from home?
  • Have they suffered from a sexually transmitted disease?
  • Do they have unexplained injuries (bruising)?
  • Are they self-harming?
  • Has their appearance changed?

What makes a child more at risk?

  • Coming from a chaotic or dysfunctional household.
  • Having a lack of friends in the same age group.
  • Feeling confused about their sexuality.
  • A history of domestic abuse or neglect.
  • Learning difficulties.
  • Contact with other exploited youngsters (e.g. at school).
  • A recent bereavement or loss.
  • Being homeless or living in residential care, a hostel or a bed and breakfast.
  • Having low self-esteem and confidence.
  • Being a young carer.
  • Living in a neighbourhood which has gangs/associated with gangs.