Child Sexual Exploitation


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

It involves offenders grooming youngsters and using their power to sexually abuse them. It can take many forms:

  • a seemingly ‘consensual’ relationship with an older boyfriend/girlfriend
  • a young person having sex in return for attention, gifts, alcohol, cigarettes or drugs
  • non-contact abuse such as victims being persuaded to send explicit images of themselves via phone (known as ‘sexting’) or online.

Sexual exploitation is child abuse and it puts the young victim at huge risk of damage to their physical, emotional and psychological health.

Norfolk 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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How can I get help or find out more?
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Anyone with concerns about child sexual exploitation can contact the police on 101. In an emergency always dial 999.

Information can be passed anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000.

There are also a number of internet-based support options for advice and guidance around keeping children safe. Below are a few of these: 


Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation

PACE have a comprehensive website containing information and advice about CSE. The site is aimed specifically at parents but also contains some information for professionals.



The Barnardo’s website contains a lot of information and research on CSE.
They have produced a leaflet entitled ‘Sexual Exploitation: Sex, Secrets and Lies’ that provides information for children and young people regarding what CSE is and also contains some guidance for family members on what to look out for.


CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre) 

CEOP works with child protection partners across the UK and overseas to identify online and offline threats to children and young people. More information about their work can be found at www.ceop.police.uk. CEOP also offers advice for parents and carers.


Think you know

This website provides information and guidance for children, young people, parents/carers and professionals regarding some of the activities they may be undertaking online, as well as new technologies. There is an area of their site specifically for parents.


The ROSE Project (Reaching Out on Sexual Exploitation)

ROSE raises the awareness of Child Sexual Exploitation in Norfolk and provides a helpline 0808 800 1037 and live chat facility for anyone concerned or affected by the issues.
The Rose Project includes befriending victims of sexual exploitation, working with young people who run away from home or care, and a dedicated youth work programme. Further information about their work can be found here.
The Rose Campaign also runs a Grandparents Internet Safety – Know the Basics Session which is open to parents and carers as well as grandparents. More information can be found here.

Your child’s school may also have a Designated Child Protection Officer, Parent Support Advisor or Police Safer Schools Officer and these people may be able to support and advise your child.

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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.

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

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What is Norfolk doing to tackle CSE?
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All matters of CSE will be dealt with by the Multi-Agency Sexual Exploitation team who review and risk-assess all referrals. They aim to:

  • help victims recognise their situation
  • secure support to escape this type of abuse
  • pursue offenders.

Every report of suspected child abuse or sexual exploitation is followed-up by this team.

They will:

  • share relevant information and co-ordinate the most appropriate response for each individual
  • identify and disrupt offenders
  • identify those who pose the greatest risk
  • offer a whole range of support for children, their families and carers.

Every crime identified is investigated thoroughly and child victims are supported during cases by specially trained experts in the field.

In addition to this, our dedicated Safer School Officers – police officers or PCSOs – work closely with schools to educate children about the dangers of sexual exploitation – be it offline or online. For more on this see our Safer Schools Partnership page.

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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/associate with gangs.