Parents and Carers


CSE and your child

Your child is not too young to be a victim of child sexual exploitation and it can happen to any child from any background - but there are often warning signs.

It’s common for young people not to realise they are a victim of sexual exploitation, or if they do, to feel that it’s their fault.

It’s not always clear about what children and young people are doing, and the offenders can be very clever at 'targeting’ and 'grooming.'

Grooming is when victims are tricked by offenders into thinking that they are in a normal loving relationship in order to gain their trust, before being emotionally and sexually abused.

Offenders can use violence and fear, blackmail or make the child feel guilty, worthless or that they've got no choice but to be abused.

Recognise the signs

Child sexual exploitation can be hard to identify. A change in behaviour in a young person may often seem like normal teenage behaviour, but it could be something far more serious.

Being aware of the warning signs and acting on them early can prevent abuse happening or escalating.

CSE parental awareness - This video produced by Barnado’s aims to show you how you can spot the signs of sexual exploitation by telling the story of Sophie and what happens after she make a new friend online.

Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre – This video produced by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), shows how young people can be targeted online.

If you are concerned about your child for any of these reasons, then please report your concerns.

Talk to your children about healthy relationships

Children and young people need to know they can talk to you about anything. Take the time to talk them about what a normal healthy relationship is and what they can do to help protect themselves if they are in a difficult situation.

It’s important to realise that children are not to blame, no matter how bad things may seem. They have been cruelly manipulated by criminals.

Remember, offenders rely on victims feeling shame or guilt to keep them silent.

When talking with you children make sure you:

  • Show them positive attention
  • Ask them about what they are getting up to and who their friends are
  • If you are worried, tell them why
  • Listen, don’t judge
  • Do not to shout or argue
  • Reassure them that it is ok to talk to another trusting adult if they cannot talk to you

As part of the Real Love Rocks campaign, Barnado’s has two useful resource packs to help you talk to your child about healthy relationships.

Take an interest in what your child’s doing online

The modern digital landscape isn’t without its risks. Not everyone behaves as they should, or is who they say they are.

78% of 12 to 15 year olds and 31% of 8 to 11 year olds own a mobile phone. Most have the freedom to access anyone through many different online platforms. That also means that many people can access them, often anonymously. More children are at risk from online sexual abusers than ever before.

Children and teenagers like to share all sorts of pictures and information in chatrooms and on all sorts of websites and mobile apps - sometimes with people they’ve never actually met.

Many young people also don’t distinguish between “friends” on the internet and offline – and they can’t just “turn it off.” They can be seriously harmed from abuse online. Often this abuse can connect to offline abuse. For example, grooming, taking pictures and sending them illegally often involved online and offline abuse happening at the same time.

You can also teach your child the five key Childnet SMART Rules:

  • S – SAFE
    Keep safe by being careful not to give out personal information – such as your name, email, phone number, home address, or school name – to people who you don’t know online.
    Meeting someone you have only been in touch with online can be dangerous. Only do so with your parents’/carers’ permissions & when they can be present.
    Accepting e-mails, IM messages or opening files from people you don’t know or trust can be dangerous – they may contain viruses or nasty messages.
    Someone online may be lying about who they are, and information you find on the internet may not be reliable.
  • T – TELL
    Your parent, carer or a trusted adult if someone or something makes you feel uncomfortable or worried.


Sexting is when children send or receive explicit images of themselves through text message or over the internet. Most young people think that it’s okay and a normal part of healthy relationship – but nearly 1 in 5 people receiving a sext have passed it onto someone else, or even posted it onto the Internet.

Most young people don’t understand the consequences of sexting – that it can be sent to anyone anywhere, that it is illegal and it can wreck lives.

They want you, as a parent, to help them keep safe online.

• Use these conversations starters to explore together what they’re doing online and tell that about the SMART rules

• Ask them to download the Zipit app. Zipit features a number of flirty and amusing comebacks to help your child stay in control of their online conversations.

• Draw your child attention to this online quiz created by MTV. The quiz will help them to think the impact sexting can have and also encourage them to think about their own attitudes to online safety.

• For an example of how sexting can affect someone, take a look at Grace’s Story.

Further help and support for Parents and Carers

This section includes further resources offering help and support. Please note these links may take you out of this website.

Support and advice - Parents Against Child Exploitation (PACE) - Offers support to concerned or affected parents including an online advice centre. equip parents with the information and knowledge to safeguard children from this abuse.

CEOP's - thinkuknow offers advice to parents of children at primary and secondary school, including how to talk to your child.

Barnardo’s have produced a list of social media and digital platforms that young people use and explains what each one does and what the risks are.

Share Aware Guide - a PDF guide produced to empower parents to keep their children safe online.

Savana is an organisation that offers support services and information to anyone who has encountered or experienced any form of sexual assault or violence at some point in their lives.
Understanding the digital world - Do you know what IWSN means? LMIRL? NO? The Parent Zone's website has a wealth of information to help families deal with the many difficulties thrown up by the pace of technological change.

NetAware - a comprehensive guide for parents on over 50 of the top social networks, apps and games that young people use.

Talking to Your Child About Staying Safe Online - advice and tips from the NSPCC on how to have effective conversations with your children about an array of online topics, including cyberbullying, online porn, and sharing images and information.

Parental Controls - information on how parental controls can be used to help keep children safe online.

SelfieCop is an app that automatically forwards photos taken on a child or teen's phone to his or her parents. The aim is to make young people think more carefully about what they are snapping and sharing.

Videos to share with your child

Here are some more useful videos for parents and carers to share with children.

Videos for Younger children:

Videos for teenagers: