Child exploitation is child abuse.

Any child from any background can be sexually exploited, regardless of their gender or sexuality or their social or ethnic background.

Age is also not an indicator of risk – the children you work with are not too young.

Offenders are highly manipulative: they can use violence and fear, blackmail or make the child feel guilty, worthless or that they’ve got no choice.

Offenders can be any adults or children, male or female, and from any background.

The offenders who do this are skilled at targeting and grooming young people.

Help to recognise CSE and act on it

As a professional you have a legal responsibility to safeguard the children you come into contact with and are the most likely person that a child in need of help tries to talk to.

You need to stay alert to changes in the behaviour of children/ young people or any physical signs of abuse and know how best to respond.

Preventing CSE is everyone’s responsibility

You need to be able to:

  • Spot the signs of child sexual exploitation and grooming
  • Identify risk factors
  • Understand the issues around ‘consent’ to sex
  • Know how to communicate them to children and young people
  • Confidently take action

Act on it! Report it!

You are not alone. If you have any concerns that a child or young person you know may be a victim of child sexual exploitation, help is available

Listen to the child and if you have any concerns, do what is needed to help them.

Any practitioner with concerns should speak to their safeguarding officer and follow their agency’s safeguarding procedures.

For social work practitioners, health professionals, educationalists and other professionals supporting families and children:

  • If you believe the child to be at risk, and if the child is already known to Children’s Social Services, approach the lead social worker and Local Support Team.
  • Complete the Risk Factor Matrix if you don’t know if they are known to Children’s Social Services
  • Send to First Response on 0800 1313 126 in Staffordshire or to the Safeguarding and Referral Team on 01782 235100 in Stoke-on-Trent
  • If there is an immediate risk of significant harm to a child, ring Staffordshire Police on 101 or 999 in an emergency

For law enforcement officers:

  • Refer the child or young person to the Child Exploitation Team at Staffordshire Police. Ring 101
  • Tag the incident report for the Child Exploitation Team

Can you help the child yourself?

  • If the child is at low risk, it may be too early to refer the case on. It may be that providing advice and guidance, or other early intervention to a child, young person and/or family to help them stay safe, is more appropriate.
  • With parental consent or the consent of the young person themselves, a single agency or group of agencies can do this via an Early Help Assessment (EHA) or with the help of your Local Support team (LST)
  • If you are in any doubt, or if a young person is at an immediate risk, you should refer the case to: First Response in Staffordshire on 0800 1313 126 orSafeguarding and Referral Team on 01782 235100 in Stoke on Trent, following consultation with your own Safeguarding Lead or designated person.

If the child is at risk of harm or there are wider concerns:

  • Refer the case to First Response on 0800 1313 126 in Staffordshire, or refer the case Safeguarding and Referral Team on 1782 235100 in Stoke-on-Trent
  • Refer the child to a multi-agency CSE Panel for support
  • Contact Staffordshire Police on 101, or 999 in an emergency


Children and young people are not being exploited if they are 16 or over.


It can take place even when the victim can legally consent to sex - if their ability to give consent is affected by influence of drugs, threats of violence, grooming or a power imbalance between victim and perpetrator.

This is why a 16- or 17-year-old can be sexually exploited even though they are old enough to consent to sexual activity.

Consent - As Simple As Tea

This video from Thames Valley Police explains consent in very simple terms

Grooming - What is it?

Grooming is when someone convinces a child that they are a safe and trustworthy person for the purpose of sexually exploiting them.

A child will not always understand this is happening.

This can be through a friendship or a boyfriend/girlfriend - ‘’A ‘’relationship’’

It can happen:

  • In person
  • Via mobile phones
  • or ONLINE

More about Grooming

The NSPCC provide this excellent 'Grooming at-a-glance' resource about grooming

A collection of CSE Videos

Here are some useful video resources for professionals.