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Child Sexual Exploitation

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 or young person’s immediate recognition; for example being persuaded to post sexual images on the Internet/mobile phones without immediate payment or gain.

What are the signs of Child Sexual Exploitation?

  • going missing for periods of time or regularly returning home late
  • regularly missing school or not taking part in education
  • appearing with unexplained gifts or new possessions
  • associating with other young people involved in exploitation
  • having older boyfriends or girlfriends
  • suffering from sexually transmitted infections
  • mood swings or changes in emotional wellbeing
  • drug and alcohol misuse
  • displaying inappropriate sexualised behaviour
If you have concerns about a child, the current CSE Risk Assessment Toolkit can be used to assess the situation and advise on what action to take next.

Who is at Risk of Child Sexual Exploitation?

Sexual exploitation can affect any child. However, some children are particularly vulnerable, including those who:

  • live in care or are leaving care
  • go missing from home or care
  • play truant from school
  • have learning difficulties
  • have parents who are vulnerable (i.e. with mental ill-health or substance misuse issues)
  • are being bullied
  • are at risk of offending

What is the Impact of Child Sexual Exploitation?

Child Sexual Exploitation is a subtle but destructive crime that can end up affecting every part of a victim's health, happiness and development. In particular, victims are at risk of:

  • sexual abuse and/or violence, such as sexual assault or rape
  • being passed around different people for sexual acts
  • physical harm - either from other people or from self-harm
  • sexually transmitted infections
  • mental health problems
  • substance misuse and/or overdose
  • suicide attempts
  • teenage pregnancy
  • isolation from family and friends
  • lack of education and/or poor grades at school.

Young people and their families often require a range of support services over sometimes a long period of time to assist them in overcoming the impact of CSE.

What is the LSCB doing in relation to Child Sexual Exploitation?

Southend LSCB has prioritised and is committed to tackling CSE. It works together with the LSCBs of Essex and Thurrock to coordinate its response to this issue. Our CSE Policy details how agencies, including the Police and Children’s Services, will work together to identify children and young people at risk of CSE; share information; assess their needs; support them and their families; and disrupt and pursue perpetrators through the criminal justice system. All LSCB partner agencies have a CSE Champion to help professionals in their organisation to identify and support children and young people at risk of CSE.

If you are concerned that a child is at risk of sexual exploitation, you can contact:

  • Southend Borough Council First Contact Team on 01702 215007 (0845 606 1212 outside office hours) or
  • Essex Police on 101, or
  • Ask to talk to the safeguarding children lead or child sexual exploitation champion at your local school or college; GP surgery or other health provider; Probation office; or Housing Association

If a child or young person is at immediate risk phone 999 and ask for the police