Child sexual exploitation (CSE) can be stopped.

To prevent CSE and keep children safe, it is vital that we:

  • raise public and professional awareness of the signs of CSE
  • teach children and young people about healthy relationships
  • make sure everyone knows how to report concerns
  • identify and prosecute perpetrators.

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Public and professional awareness of CSE

Building awareness of what exploitation and abuse are can help keep children and young people safe.

Professionals and the public can play a part in developing their own understanding of the signs, symptoms and effects of CSE. They can also:

Sex and healthy relationships

Our report Preventing child sexual abuse: towards a national strategy calls on Government to ensure children and young people receive age-appropriate Sex and Relationship Education (SRE) as part of Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE).

The following resources can help children and young people identify the signs of CSE:

Childline's #ListenToYourSelfie campaign uses videos and advice to help children and young people work out what's right and wrong when it comes to sex and relationships.

Childline have also produced 3 animations for children and young people to help raise awareness and understanding of, and prompt discussion about, sexual exploitation, grooming and trafficking:

Sexual exploitation



Reporting your concerns

If you have any concerns or suspect a young person is a victim or is at risk of child sexual exploitation you can contact us on 0808 800 5000, or report a concern online.

If you work with and suspect that a young person is a victim or is at risk of becoming a victim of child sexual exploitation you must follow your organisation's safeguarding procedures.

Partnership working and effective information sharing help protect children at risk of CSE. Sharing information effectively across statutory and voluntary agencies is a challenge that urgently needs to be addressed. 

Local Safeguarding Children Boards should have:

  • a child sexual exploitation strategy
  • a lead person responsible for co-ordinating a multi-agency response.

Multi-agency support also needs to be available to victims and their families during court cases.

Our learning from case reviews briefing highlights that professionals need to be aware of the warning signs of potential sexual exploitation and consider the child protection implications of underage sexual activity.

NWG Network have pulled together a summary of recommendations on tackling CSE from reports, inquiries, case reviews and research. It is set out for individual sectors: education, government, health, local authority and police.

Identifying perpetrators of child sexual exploitation

Perpetrators of child sexual exploitation need to be identified quickly and prosecuted.

The short film Can you stop it? from the Metropolitan Police provides practical advice and information to help professionals understand, recognise and intervene where they suspect child sexual exploitation offences are taking place.

In March 2015 changes to legislation in England and Wales created Sexual Harm Prevention Orders (SHPOs) and Sexual Risk Orders (SROs). An SHPO or SRO is intended to protect the public or an individual against sexual harm. The Government has published guidance for police and practitioners (PDF) on these powers (Home Office, 2015).

Legislation, policy and guidance

Details of legislation, policy and guidance about child sexual exploitation in England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

See legislation, policy and guidance

Stop it Before it Starts: a free service

Stop it Before it Starts is a free service providing bespoke support and training on preventing child sexual exploitation. It's aimed at voluntary organisations working with young people in London communities. 

We know that preventative work is a key factor in responding to child sexual exploitation (CSE). And having early conversations about healthy relationships and consent is vital to tackling it before it starts.

Research1 tells us that that the most effective type of intervention is relationship based support. Stop it Before it Starts helps voluntary organisations build their capacity to work with young people. This could be a youth club, residential unit, hostel or a playground. 

This service was developed with external agencies, with funding from Comic Relief and Big Lottery.

Stop it Before it Starts focuses on strengthening and supporting the excellent work that already exists within the voluntary sector.

A social worker from the NSPCC will have an initial consultation with the organisation to identify their needs, before creating a tailored plan of support. This might include a series of workshops, a practical skills session or joint group work.

Where an organisation is concerned about a specific young person, the social worker may take on some direct work. 

The Stop it Before it Starts free service is currently available to organisations based in the London boroughs of Lewisham, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Haringey.

Email us for more information


Further information and advice

Helping children who have been sexually exploited

Find out how you can help protect children who have experienced, or at risk of, child sexual exploitation.

Find out more


Children and young people can be groomed online or in the real world, by a stranger or by someone they know - a family member, friend or professional. 
Read more about grooming

Child trafficking

Child trafficking is a type of abuse where children are recruited, moved or transported and then exploited, forced to work or sold. 
Read more about child trafficking

Facts and statistics

Read the latest facts and statistics about child sexual exploitation.

Find out more

Research and resources

Read our research, reports and resources about child sexual exploitation including learning from case reviews and factsheet for schools. 

See research and resources for child sexual exploitation

‘Time to listen’: a joined up response to child sexual exploitation and missing children

Time to listen report findings from 5 inspections looking at how local agencies are responding to child sexual exploitation (CSE) and missing children.
Find out more

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