12 Childline counselling sessions a day for child sexual exploitation

Childline Annual Review 2018/19 released today shows other major concerns around mental health issues, family relationships and suicidal thoughts

The Annual Review released today shows Childline delivered 4,500 counselling sessions around child sexual exploitation in 2018/19 - a 16% increase on the previous year.1 The youngest child was just 9.

In more than a third of counselling sessions about child sexual exploitation young people said they were targeted online - usually through social media or video games, and often by their peers or people they knew. 

Over the last year:

    • most commonly children got help from Childline because they were forced to perform or watch sexual acts
    • some children were threatened and told that naked images would be shared with friends and family
    • exploitation featured in more than half of the counselling sessions about sexual abuse2
    • some children had received gifts or affection in exchange for sexual activities
    • the number of children aged 16-18 receiving counselling for sexual exploitation had increased by a quarter.  

The NSPCC is calling on the Government to provide proper training to teachers so they can deliver effective and relevant lessons about healthy relationships, consent and sex; and support young people to get help from a trusted adult.


Worried about a child?

If you're worried about a child or young person, you can contact the NSPCC helpline for support and advice for free - call us on 0808 800 5000 or contact us online.

Children can contact Childline any time to get support themselves.

Get support

Peter Wanless, NSPCC Chief Executive said:

“Sadly, we are hearing from young people every day who are being manipulated or blackmailed into carrying out sexual acts. 

The Government must ensure teachers are confident to teach the new Relationship and Sex education lessons rolling out next year, and Childline needs more volunteers to make sure they can be there for every child who needs our help, at all times of day and night."


Names and identifying features have been changed to protect identity. Photographs have been posed by models.


  1. 1. In 2018-19 Childline provided a total of 4,500 counselling sessions with children and young people who were worried about sexual exploitation. In 2017-18 Childline provided a total of 3,895 counselling sessions with children and young people who were worried about child sexual exploitation. This is a 16 per cent increase.

  2. 2. Counselling sessions about sexual exploitation are a sub-concern of Sexual Abuse counselling sessions. The total number of counselling sessions about sexual abuse was 8,841 in 2018-19.