Child sexual exploitation Preventing child sexual exploitation
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.
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:
- take part in the annual National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day
- download posters, leaflets, presentations and more from the NWG Network.
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:
- information and advice on power, abuse and control in relationships from Thinkuknow
- a film made by young people in Northern Ireland from Barnardo's
- the free educational Wud U? app from Barnardos showing children how to make safe decisions.
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:
Reporting your concerns
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).
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.
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.
Facts and statistics
Read the latest facts and statistics about child sexual exploitation.
Research and resources
Read our research, reports and resources about child sexual exploitation including learning from case reviews and factsheet for schools.
‘Time to listen’: a joined up response to child sexual exploitation and missing children
Work or volunteer with children and families?
Visit NSPCC Learning for information, resources and training to help you safeguard and protect children and young people across the UK.