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Child Sexual Exploitation

If you have any concerns that a child or young person is being sexually exploited call Sussex Police on 101 and quote Operation Kite.


Sexual exploitation of children and young people under 18 involves exploitative situations, contexts and relationships where young people (or a third person or persons) receive ‘something’ (e.g. food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, affection, gifts, money) as a result of them performing, and/or another or others performing on them, sexual activities. Child sexual exploitation can occur through the use of technology without the child’s immediate recognition; for example being persuaded to post sexual images on the Internet/mobile phones without 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. Violence, coercion and intimidation are common, involvement in exploitative relationships being characterised in the main by the child or young person’s limited availability of choice resulting from their social/economic and/or emotional vulnerability

Both girls and boys are at risk of sexual exploitation, and it is seriously harmful to children both emotionally and physically. Children and young people often find it very hard to understand or accept that they are being abused through sexual exploitation, and this increases their risk of being exposed to violent assault and life threatening events by those who abuse them.

Signs to look out for include:

  • Going missing for periods of time or regularly returning home late
  • Frequently staying out late or overnight with no explanation as to where they have been.
  • Going places that you know they can not afford.
  • Skipping school or being disruptive in class
  • Suddenly acquiring expensive gifts such as mobile phones, jewellery – even drugs – and not being able to explain how they came by them.
  • Having mood swings and changes in temperament
  • Noticeable changes in behaviour – becoming secretive, defensive or aggressive when asked about their personal life.
  • Wearing inappropriate clothing that is too adult or revealing for their age.
  • Displaying inappropriate sexualised behaviours, such as over familiarity with strangers, dressing in a sexualised manner or sending sexualised images by mobile phone (‘sexting’)
  • Getting into trouble with the police.
  • Bruises, marks on the body, sexually-transmitted diseases, pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse or self-harm.
  • Repeated phone calls, letters, emails from adults outside family social circle.

The WISE Project is a service for 13-25 year olds who are experiencing sexual exploitation or are at risk of experiencing it. The project is also a point of call for advice and guidance for those working with young people who have suffered form sexual exploitation.


For more information read our CSE bulletin published in April 2014.

Click here for the Pan Sussex Child Protection & Safeguarding Procedures on Child Sexual Exploitation. There is also the Pan Sussex CSE Strategy and the Brighton & Hove CSE strategy.

If you have any concerns that a child or young person is being sexually exploited call Sussex Police on 101 and quote Operation Kite.

PACE (Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation) provide free online training called Keep Them Safe. The course is aimed at parents, but safeguarding professionals will also find this e-learning a valuable source of introductory information on what child sexual exploitation is, the impacts of this abuse on families and how to take action in reporting or stopping sexual exploitation. www.paceuk.info/the-problem/keep-them-safe They also have a guide for parents whose children are being exploited called Keeping it Together.


Image to show no talkingWud U?, developed by Barnardos, is an educational tool for teachers & care professionals who interact with young people that might be at risk of sexual exploitation. The app aims to educate young people about behaviour that could put them at risk of being sexual exploited, through illustrated, interactive stories, and can be downloaded for free from the Windows Store, Google Play & the I-Phone store.

If you are concerned about a child in Brighton & Hove contact the Front Door for Families on 01273 290400