Child sexual exploitation
Learn the signs and protect your child and other people’s children
Child sexual exploitation is a form of child abuse. Children may receive something in return for carrying out sexual activities such as gifts, affection or money. Children may be invited to parties where a potential offender may try to give them drugs or alcohol. Sometimes children will be given affection and compliments and even offers of romance and marriage, in order to groom them into taking part in sexual activities. Children can be far too easily contacted online by people who want to sexually exploit them and forced to comply with unsafe activities, both on and offline.
While we’re still in lockdown (and even as the lockdown is gradually lifted), it’s difficult to know if children are at more or less risk than usual. Being at home could be good for a child, as parents can keep an eye on them. On the other hand, online abuse may increase. So let’s be careful and cautious and continue to be vigilant about children’s safety. Assuming the worst can happen is often the best way to prevent the worst from happening.
Everyone can help to significantly reduce the risk to children of sexual exploitation. You too can help. If you're a parent, we can help if you have worries about your child. Find a list of expert contacts below.
Community groups, faith groups and local businesses can help. Staff teams that meet people can also help. Many people in jobs and volunteer roles already get to know families, children and young people over a long period of time. They can see when something changes and where there could be a problem.
Sometimes it's a matter of spotting something happening in a public space. You need to know what to look out for and how to report your concerns.
If you want to know more about how you can help, contact MASH.
We can help staff teams, community groups and other groups of people with one hour awareness workshops. They're free of charge and can be arranged at a time and place that suits your team. If you have any questions, email us.
What parents and concerned adults should do
- if you have concerns about a child’s safety and think they could be at risk of others exploiting them:
- email MASH and contact the police or;
- if anyone is in immediate harm or danger, call the emergency services on 999
- if you want to report sexual exploitation as a crime, call Crimestoppers on freephone number 0800 555 111; in an emergency always call 999 or call the police on 101 if it's not an emergency and you want to report a concern
- for confidential advice about sexual exploitation and keeping your child safe, call 0808 1000 900; this advice line, provided by the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, provides other resources on their website including a leaflet aimed at helping parents keep their children safe
- British charity PACE UK supports parents whose children may have been sexually exploited; contact their support team on 0113 240 3040 if you have concerns about your child
- the NSPCC offers useful internet safety resources for parents and families - their Share Aware campaign helps parents keep their children safe online, learn tips to help you talk to your child about internet safety and they offer a simple guide for parents covers the most popular social network apps and sites
- CEOP, part of the National Crime Agency, offers further materials to help parents keep their children and teenage children safe online; you can also report an offence
Page last updated: 23 January 2024