Young People


Child Sexual Exploitation

Child sexual exploitation is when someone makes you, or manipulates you, into doing something sexual for the benefit or enjoyment of themselves or others.

It might be someone that you think is your boyfriend or girlfriend or someone you’ve just met or known for a while.

It can happen online or offline.

Offenders will attempt do draw you into a relationship and gain your trust by giving you gifts or attention.

You might think this is harmless, but then they will make you feel that you have to give something back in return and this might involve sexual acts.

That’s abuse - it’s never OK but it’s never your fault.

Spotting the signs of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) and Grooming

Spot the signs - It can be so difficult to spot the signs of CSE, especially if it’s someone you care about, someone you trust who’s exploiting you. Make sure you know how to spot the signs.

Grooming - This is a process where someone convinces a child that they are a safe and trustworthy person for the purpose of sexually exploiting them. Grooming can be subtle, and you might not even realise it’s happening.

Knowing how the grooming process works will help you to spot when it is happening to you or a friend.

Keeping safe

The following advice will help you keep yourself safe whilst out and about or online.

Ways to keep and stay safe out and about

  • Stick with mates a similar age to you – a good mate won’t ask you to do stuff you’re uncomfortable with
  • If you feel you can’t say no, ask yourself: ‘Am I in a safe situation?’
  • If someone offers you something for free, ask what they want in return
  • Listen to your body – a fast, pounding heartbeat and churning stomach are signs you feel unsafe
  • Be careful what personal details – including photos – you give out
  • Make sure you know where you are going and how to get home. Have credit and charge on your phone
  • Make sure someone you trust always knows where you are
  • Drinking and taking drugs can make you unaware of unsafe situations and you can become a target for people who may hurt you

Keeping safe online

  • Don’t post any personal information online – like your address, email address or mobile number
  • Think carefully before posting pictures or videos of yourself. Once you’ve put a picture of yourself online most people can see it and may be able to download it, it’s not just yours anymore
  • Don’t befriend people you don’t know
  • Don’t meet up with people you’ve met online. Speak to your parent or carer about people suggesting you do
  • Be careful what personal details – including photos – you give out
  • Keep your privacy settings as high as possible
  • Never give out your passwords
  • If you see something online that makes you feel uncomfortable, unsafe or worried: leave the website, turn off your computer if you want to and tell a trusted adult immediately

The Barnados Real Love Rocks website has more information on what child sexual exploitation is and how you can keep yourself safe.

Mobile phone safety

This section includes ways to protect yourself when using a mobile phone. Please note these links may take you out of this website.

Zipit App

Download the Zipit app - If someone’s trying to get you to send them naked images of yourself, use the images on Zipit to keep the situation in control. It provides witty comebacks and pictures which enable young people to diffuse the situation and stay safe.
It is free to download and available on Android, Blackberry and Apple smartphones.

Use Your Mobile Phone Safely

Mobile Phone Safety - This advice page covers what you should do if you are being bullied through your mobile or being pressured to share your phone number.


Sexting is when someone sends or receives a sexually explicit text, image or video on their mobile phone, usually in a text message.

Many young people think that sexting is okay and a normal part of healthy relationship. However, it’s important to understand the risks around sexting, and how easily sexting can go wrong – even when you don’t think it will.

Nearly 1 in 5 people receiving a sext have passed it onto someone else, or even posted it onto the Internet with devastating results for the victim involved and the person who shared the image.

The impact of sexting

Sexting can ruin relationships and the police can become involved if you are under the age of consent. See for yourself - watch how sexting can get out of hand and have a massive impact on people’s lives in this video.

After watching the video, test yourself with this quick online quiz created by MTV to see if you understand the impact of sexting and online privacy.

Think before sending a photo:

Your photo could go anywhere - Once you press send, it is no longer in your control. It can be posted anywhere on the internet. It could end up on social networking sites or even porn sites.

Anyone could see it - Don’t send anything you wouldn’t want your parents, teachers or friends seeing. Even if you completely trust someone, other people using their phone might accidently see it.

Beware screenshotting - Even if you use a webcam or an app like Snapchat, the person can take a screen shot in seconds.

People may not want your image - If you want to impress somebody, you can do it in other ways. In most cases, sexting can have the opposite effect and you could be seen as somebody you’re not.

Dealing with someone who asks for naked photos:

• If someone’s trying to get you to send them naked images of yourself, download the Zipit app to keep the situation in control. Zipit features a number of flirty and amusing comebacks to help you stay in control of your chat game.

• You can also ask them to stop, and if they are making you upset or bothering you then you should consider blocking them – even if it’s just for a bit.

• If an adult is making you uncomfortable by asking for naked images then this could be serious. They could be attempting to exploit you. Consider talking to someone you trust, talking confidentially to the NSPCC on the phone, or reporting the incident .

Healthy Relationships

Good relationships are about doing things together, and having respect and affection for the other person.

You might think your boyfriend or girlfriend is a real catch, but if you always end up doing what they want to do, then you’re not likely to have much fun of your own.

In a healthy relationship, people should:

  • Spend good quality time together
  • Support each other
  • Listen to each other’s feelings
  • When they have a disagreement, talk about it

Ask yourself these questions. Does your BF/GF:

• Always tell you what to do?
• Always want to know where you are?
• Tell you what to wear?
• Stop you seeing your other friends/ family?
• Make you pay for everything?
• Bully or threaten you?
• Tell you you’re stupid or ugly?
• Make you take rude pictures of yourself?
• Make you do drink or drugs?
• Make you do things you don’t want to?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then there’s a good chance that someone is trying to control you, and you are being treated badly. This could get worse if you let it go on.

Are You Treated Badly?

You can take a ‘healthy relationship’ test and see how your own relationship stacks up on the Treated Badly website.

Report It

Do not be nervous to report anything or ask for help about CSE, whether you think it’s happening to you or a friend.

When you for pick up the phone to report something that is happening to you, you will talk to someone who will listen to you and help you.

You can do it anonymously and won’t need to give your name, if you don’t want to.

Find out how to report anything about CSE.

Video Stories

Take a look at the stories in the videos to see what we mean. Don’t feel ashamed – it’s never too late to get help.

Talk to someone you trust – that can be a teacher, or someone else.