Child sexual exploitation

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vawgWhat is child sexual exploitation?

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) is a type of sexual violence in which children are sexually exploited in return for money, goods (like cigarettes, alcohol, mobiles or trainers etc.), power or status.

Those exploiting young people have power over them because of their age, status, physical strength and/or resources.

Some young people are trafficked into or around the UK for the purposes of sexual exploitation.

Child sexual exploitation is child abuse.

Child sexual exploitation is a hidden crime. Young people often trust their abuser and don't understand that they're being abused. They may depend on their abuser or be too scared to tell anyone what's happening.

It can involve violent, humiliating and degrading sexual assaults, including oral and anal rape. In some cases, young people are persuaded or forced into exchanging sexual activity for money, drugs, gifts, affection or status. Child sexual exploitation doesn't always involve physical contact and can happen online.

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Can a young person be a ‘child prostitute’?

No, a young person under the age of 18 can never be a prostitute! – it should always be seen as sexual exploitation and they should be seen as victims, regardless of whether they feel that they have decided to exchange sex for goods, money, status or power.

Any concerns about a young person should be immediately referred to children’s social care on 020 7364 5606.

What warning signs are there that a young person is being exploited?

The London Safeguarding Children’s Board have developed a handy mnemonic to help people to recognise warning signs of CSE - SAFEGUARD

Sexual health and behaviour concerns

Absent from school or repeatedly running away

Familial abuse and/or problems at home

Emotional and physical condition

Gangs, older groups and involvement in crime

Use of technology and sexual bullying

Alcohol and drug misuse

Receipt of unexplained money or goods

Distrust of authority figures

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Support Services

If you are in immediate risk call 999 or 112 (from a mobile) for the Police


Integrated Pathways and Support Team (IPST)

Social Services

Tel: 0207 364 5606


NSPCC Whitechapel

The NSPCC East London ‘Protect and Respect’ Sexual Exploitation Service is based in the London borough of Tower Hamlets.  The service aims to work with young people who are at risk of, have previously been or are currently being sexually exploited (work with 11-19 year olds).

Tel: 0844 892 0286

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NIA Project

The Young Women and Girls’ Advocate works with young women aged between 11-18 years, who have experienced or are at risk of sexual violence

Tel: 020 7683 1270



Private and confidential service where you can speak to a counsellor about anything affecting you including relationship abuse

Tel: 0800 1111

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Handbook for young people on the law

Seeking help around sexual violence

Website: Handbook for young people

Young people’s sexual health services (for under 25s) in the borough where you can get help and advice

The Forward Thinking Partnership (FTP)

A collaboration between Barts Health and Step Forward.

Forward Thinking Partnership @ Step Forward

234 Bethnal Green
E2 0AA

Tel: 020 7739 3082

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Step Out Project

Step Out Project is a free and confidential service for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered young people and those questioning their sexual and/or gender identity



Specialist Substance Misuse Agency for Young People in Tower Hamlets who are using drugs and alcohol. They provide education around different drugs, consequences of use, harm reduction advice and access to further support.

Tel: 0203 069 7878



Step Forward

Charity based in Bethnal Green that provide free and confidential services for young people aged 11-25. Services include free, independent and confidential information, advice, counselling, personal development and family support services. In partnership with the NHS they also host a weekly sexual health clinic. This provides free access and information to advice and support about sexual health.

Tel: 020 7739 3082


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