Child Sex Exploitation

Children and young people under the age of eighteen can be vulnerable to being taken advantage of or abused by adults. Although this is rare, it is important to keep yourself safe, both online and in the real world.

Child exploitation occurs when adults abuse their power and trust and hurt a young person, forcing them to take part in sexual acts. Sometimes children and young people will be forced into sexual acts they don’t want to do, or an adult might ‘groom’ a young person – taking time to get to know them and gaining their trust before they abuse them.

When a young person is groomed by an adult they might mistakenly believe that the adult cares about them or loves them. Sometimes when grooming the child the adult might buy gifts or give them money, or make them feel as though they are in a romantic relationship, when really the child is too young to be ready to be with a partner and have sex, and too young to realise they are being taken advantage of.

Sometimes the adult will threaten the child to keep them from telling someone. The child or young person might feel too frightened to tell, or feel that they might get into trouble if they report what’s happening to them, but the exploitation of children is illegal and is taken very seriously by the police. It is crucial to tell someone what’s going on so the abuse can stop.

If you or someone you know might be being abused you should contact the police. You can also contact ChildLine for free on 0800 1111 and speak to someone who is trained to help young people, or you can also report abuse online. Visit our Reporting page for more information.