Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a form of sexual abuse that involves the manipulation of and/or pressure on young people under the age of 18 into sexual activity.
Whether you’re a member of the public, a parent, guardian or professional working with children, we all have a role to play in helping to prevent CSE.
In a recent serious case review in Bristol, children who had been victims of sexual exploitation shared their advice to help prevent other children being exploited.
If you are worried a child may be at risk of being exploited, please speak up.
One key piece of advice the children involved in this case was for the public to be vigilant. The public need to be aware of what can happen and report what they see; if children are in a hotel with a group of older males, this is not normal. Ring and tell the police.
Here, we share some of their advice to help other children stay safe and encourage them to speak up.
Advice for other children
- Don’t try to fit in with your friends by using drugs and smoking. Try and have self worth and self respect and talk to an adult.
- Don’t hang around with people that you are not willing to take home or that you would not hang around with together with their families.
- True friends can be helpful but sometimes it’s hard to see who your true friends are and they may spread stuff around.
- Go home and call the police, tell someone – don’t worry about being embarrassed, it happens to others and they will understand.
- Let counsellors talk to you and help you sort your head out.
- Having someone work with your mum and family really helps.
- If you feel someone is not safe, tell someone, you are almost certainly right.
- Speak to teachers.
Advice for parents and professionals
The children gave the following advice for parents, teachers and other professionals to encourage children to confide in them if they are being abused.
- Recognise that it is very hard for us to see ourselves as victims and therefore to have any insight into what help we need.
- Understand that if we do talk about sex it is really important that you must not look embarrassed or go red, this just shuts us up. Your embarrassment stops children talking.
- Some people became really important to us leading up to court and when the trial is over we miss them.
- We want teachers to notice behaviour changes, to try and talk to us and notice our unhappiness. Explore behavioural changes with us and sensitively involve our parents, understanding risks for us
- If we go missing, our families need advice quickly on what to do.
- Parents should not get angry if we go missing but try and make us feel loved and that we can tell them anything.
If you are worried that a child may be at risk of sexual exploitation please phone in confidence on 01344 352005 or, if your concern is urgent, please call the police in your area or 999.