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Practitioner & Volunteers

Child Sexual Exploitation

 Child Sexual Exploitation – Information for Professionals

Child sexual exploitation is a form of child sexual abuse. It occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into sexual activity (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or (b) for the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator. The victim may have been sexually exploited even if the sexual activity appears consensual. Child sexual exploitation does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur through the use of technology. (Working Together 2018)

The Deaprtment of Education has produced  Child Sexual Expolitation guidance  in partnership with the University of Bedfordshire and Research In Practice, the full document is also available here

The young person may think that their abuser/ is/are their friend/s who they "chill" with, or may even refer to them as their boyfriend or girlfriend (professionals should avoid using this language). However they- the perpetrator/s- will put the child/ young person into dangerous situations, forcing the child/young person to do things they don’t want to do.

It may appear that the young person is making their own choices and ‘placing themselves at risk’, the use of this kind of language implies that the child is responsible for the risks presented by the perpetrator and that they are able to make free and informed choices, however in reality they are likely to have been groomed into making these decisions. CSE is never the victim’s fault, and a child or young person under the age of 18 cannot consent to their own abuse. There is appropriate language guidance for professionals for child sexual/ and criminal exploitation.

Professionals hold a vital role in the identification, prevention and disruption of CSE, as well as in safeguarding the young people involved.

CSE can happen to any young person, regardless of gender, sexuality, background or ethnicity. However, research has shown that particular groups of young people are especially vulnerable…

  • Looked After Young People
  • Young people with learning difficulties and disabilities

Other vulnerabilities have also been recognised in pradctice: 

  • Young people with unstable or chaotic homes (e.g. Domestic Violence, Young Carers, parents with substance misuse issues)
  • Young People who have substance misuse issues
  • Young people who do not attend school (exclusions, missing in education, truancy, part-time timetables)
  • Those young people with vulnerable friendship groups (bully, victim of bullying, isolation from friends, friends with other young people at risk of CSE)
  • Young people with a history of sexual or physical abuse, or neglect
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender (LGBT) young people exploring their sexuality in an unsupported way (e.g. chat rooms, social networking)
  • Young people who have experienced bereavement 

Some key indicators that a young person may be at risk of, or experiencing CSE are listed below, but practitioners should be mindful that this is not an exhaustive list, and sometimes indicators will not be obvious…

  • Missing from home or care
  • History of neglect/ abuse/ domestic violence
  • Substance misuse/ Anti-Social Behaviour
  • Low self esteem/ self harming/ mental health concerns
  • Inappropriate friendships with adults/ older teenagers
  • Unexplained money or possessions
  • Truancy/ Exclusions/ Missing from Education
  • Secretive or extensive use of the mobile phone/ internet
  • Unexplained injuries or sexually transmitted infections
  • Sudden changes in behaviour/ appearance/ friends
  • Older boyfriend/ older female friend
  • Talking about visiting different places/ being in cars
  • Increased use of drugs and alcohol

If you are concerned about a young person who may be being sexually exploited, please contact Solihull CSE Team or Children’s Social Work Services on 0121 788 4300 (Monday- Thursday 8.45am- 5.20pm, Friday 8.45am-4.30pm) or out of hours Emergency Duty Team 0121 605 6060

If your concern is about a child in immediate danger, please ring Police on 999.

"Say Something" is a 24/7, anonymous helpline, that creates space for young people to share any worries they have about themselves or their friends and will provide support to help them keep safe.

Call or text 116000

Facebook: /SaySomething

Twitter: @SaySomethingIf 

One of the biggest threats facing partnership work & policing today when tackling CSE is the large scale of cyber enabled abuse where victims have been groomed and abused through the use of social media applications (apps).  There are currently thousands of apps being used with developers creating new ones every day.  As a result, West Midlands Police have created a social media record  of those that have been linked to CSE.

The spread sheet consists of 5 columns:

1.   NAME – the name of the app

2.   DESCRIPTION – a brief description of the app

3.   CATEGORY – the apps currently in the library are categorised as either CONTENT SHARING, DATING, GAMING or MESSAGING

4.   WEBSITE – a link to the apps official website, and

5.   DATE ADDED – the date the app was identified and added to the library.  This will serve the purpose of helping to identify new and emerging apps.

This is by no means an exhaustive list.  It is not a list of all social media apps, but merely a list of all apps that have been identified as being linked to the commissioning of CSE at a point in time. This library should be treated as a living document and will be updated when new apps are identified.

Information of the Assessment of CSE across the West Midlands for July-Sept 2017 can be found here and here.

Below are links to procedures and documents which will form part of your safeguarding response to CSE…

  • Solihull CSE strategy is available here
  • Solihull LSCB provides full safeguarding procedures relating specifically to CSE
  • The procedures include links to the following documents…
    • CSE Screening Tool
    • Pathway for Action CSE
    • MASE (Multi-Agency Child Sexual Exploitation) Meeting Agenda’s – Initial and Review
    • CSE Risk Assessment for completion within MASE meetings
    • Referral form for CSE Team Specialist Worker

Resources for supporting young people experiencing or at risk of CSE…..

  • Solihull MBC have developed resource packs to support professionals in carrying out relationships education and prevention work around CSE with primary and secondary aged children and young people. 
  • Barnardos have created a leaflet for young people explaining more about Child Sexual exploitation
  • Birmingham & Solihull’s Umberella service has some useful information and specialist services for sexual health concerns. Opening times for sexual health clinics are also available on the Website
  • Barnardos have developed an app which can be downloaded for free which helps you to consider safe choices relating to relationships and Child Sexual Exploitation."Wud U?" can be downloaded from the App Store, Google Play or by visiting Barnardos website

For further resources for supporting young people experiencing or at risk of CSE, please click on the Child Sexual Exploitation – Information for Children and Young People section

For resources for supporting Parents or Carers please click on the Child Sexual Exploitation – information for parents or carers section of the website. There is a free interactive education tool for parents/ carers available here

Useful information and Reports for Professionals…

  • See Me Hear Me is a West Midlands-wide campaign which aims to improve people’s awareness of Child Sexual Exploitation. You can register on the website to receive the West Midlands CSE news letter. 
  • NWG Network provides expert information and further resources about CSE.
  • Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation (HMI Probation) carried out joint targeted area inspection focused on child sexual exploitation and published 'Time to listen’− a joined up response to child sexual exploitation and missing children in September 2016,
  • The University of Bedfordshire International Research Centre has lots of training resources and research available about child sexual exploitation, violence and trafficking.
  • A Research briefing Child Sexual Exploitation: Problems and Solutions from the perspective of young people and professionals produced by CASCADE was published in March 2015 
  • Old Enough To Know Better published by the Children's Society in Nov 2015 is a report that looks at why sexually exploited older children are being overlooked. 
  • Under protected over protected is a report supported by Comic Relief about meeting the needs of children with learning disabilities who experience or are at risk of child sexual exploitation. There is a supporting Practice Guide
  • Barnardo's published Research on the exploitation of boys and young men in August 2014. and in March 2015 The Open University and Action For Children published a report Beyond Male Role Models: gender identities and work with young men.
  • In July 2017 The Home Office published Criminal exploitation of children & vulnerable adults; County Lines Guidance  
  • The Relational Safeguarding Model is a guide produced by Parents Against Child Sexual exploitation (PACE) 
  • Working Effectively to Address Child Sexual Exploitation: An evidence scope produced by Research in Practice 
  • Peer-on-peer abuse tool kit The Safeguarding Unit at Farrer & Co has produced a template peer-on-peer abuse policy which encapsulates a Contextual Safeguarding approach. It should be noted that this is an interim version. The Safeguarding Unit and Dr Firmin will now collaborate with a number of other experts, on the template policy, a revised version of which will, for example, include a specific focus on digital behaviour.
  • Contextual safeguarding is an approach to safeguarding children and young people that responds to their experience of harm beyond the home. The University of Bedfordshires website hold a number of resources including the contextual assessment framework
  • The Fixing Child Sexual Exploitation project allowed young people, who had gone on the journey from victim to survivor of child sexual exploitation and abuse, to share their
    views and experiences in this report
  • The centre of expertise on child sexual abuse have publishing five studies on CSE perpetration, the first step in this research programme. The scoping studies identify key findings from existing research and provide new evidence on the characteristics and perspectives of people who sexually exploit young people. 

Modern Slavery & Trafficking 

The organised crime of child trafficking into and within the UK has become an issue of grave concern to all professionals with responsibility for the care and protection of children, as victims are coerced, deceived or forced into the control of others who seek to profit from their exploitation and suffering. The Modern Slavery Act 2015 makes provision about slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour and about human trafficking, including provision for the protection of victims. There is Victims of modern slavery- frontline staff guidance and guidance aimed at nursing staff which could be useful to others.