Child Sexual Exploitation
"If You Can’t Rule It Out, Rule It In"
There are certain risk indicators that may alert you to the possibility that Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) is occurring.
Crucially, the earlier CSE is identified, the better the outcome for the child/young person, as harm can be minimised or at best, prevented.
It can be difficult to identify children/young people who may be being abused in this way. The children/young people themselves, may not recognise that they are being abused, due to the manipulative nature of the abusive adults. Indeed, they can show challenging behaviour and may be abusive and anti-social in their presentation; or conversely they may show no signs at all. This adds to existing vulnerability.
Possible Warning Signs That May Indicate Risk of CSE:
- Truancy/change in school attendance
- Bullying in or out of school
- Going missing for periods of time
- Leaving home late at night or in the middle of the night
- Changes in friendship groups – Lost contact with old friends
- Having an older ‘boyfriend’ or ‘girlfriend’
- Being friends with 'older adults'
- Preoccupation with a mobile phone which could indicate they are being controlled (e.g. having several mobile phones, unexplained credit, and extreme distress when one is lost or not working)
- Leaving home in response to communication received via their mobile phone
- Emotional symptoms including eating disorders, mood swings and self-harming
- Drug and alcohol misuse
- Having money or gifts like clothes, jewellery, mobile phone and SIM cards, etc which they have difficulty in accounting for
- A change in appearance, perhaps leaving home in clothing they wouldn’t normally wear or returning home after being missing looking well cared for
- Involvement in theft or shoplifting (often organised by the person exploiting them)
- Displaying inappropriate sexualised behaviour or showing signs of sexual activity/abuse, including sexually transmitted infections, terminations and pregnancy scares
- Previous and sometimes current, sexual abuse, neglect and physical abuse; or incidents of domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse in the family
- Frequenting places of concern or in possession of hotel ‘items’ like soaps and shampoos
- Being secretive about time spent online or having little or no acknowledgment of the potential risks of taking sexualised photographs and what can happen to these images
The above list is neither exhaustive nor definitive. It is vitally important to discuss your concerns with a designated member of staff for safeguarding and/or Children’s Social Work Services