CSE & Sexting


Sexual exploitation is a type of abuse which can happen to anyone. Victims are usually given something by their abuser - food, money, drugs, alcohol or gifts etc. The abuser however will always want something in return and this is usually in the form of sexual activity. The abuser will use power over their victim to make them do things they may not want to do. Sometimes this can involve violence and blackmail, making victims feel like they need to 'pay things back'. This type of exploitation can offen start online without the victime realising they are being exploited.


It can be very difficult to spot the signs of CSE, but if you are worried about your friend here are some signs you can look out for that could mean that they might be experiencing CSE and putting themselves at risk of harm.
  • Are they hanging around new friends (usually much older than they are)? 
  • Are they staying out later (or even overnight) than normal? Are they going missing sometimes?
  • Are they being given gifts but not telling you where from? (i.e. money, new trainers, new clothes, jewellery, mobile phone etc)
  • Are they being given drugs or alcohol?
  • Are there changes in their mood? Or are they being suddenly secretive about what they do?
  • Are they getting lifts in cars from people you don't know?

CSE itself is a crime but it is it usually associated with lots of other crimes. These include:

 Having or suppling indecent images of children
  • This means someone is taking or has inappropriate images of children (under 18. It is a very serious crime and offenders can get up to 10 years in prison. Images could be photographs, videos and digital pictures from a computer, smartphone or snapshots from a webcam.
  • This law means that sexting between young people aged under 18 is illegal, even if you just take and send a picture to a boyfriend or girlfriend. 
  • Also if an adult manipulates or forces a young person into sexting, the adult is guilty of possession/supply of indecent images of children, and CSE.

 Supplying drugs/alcohol to children under 18
  • Anyone who gives someone under the age of 18 drugs, whether for free or for money, is breaking the law. 
  • Supplying them carries a sentence of up to 14 years in prison, which can be increased to over 20 years in some cases. 
  • If an adult buys alcohol for under 18s, or a shopkeeper sells alcohol to people aged under 18, they can be found guilty of the crime of supplying alcohol to children, and fined up to £5,000.
Rape and sexual assault
  • Rape is when someone is forced to have sex against their will. The rapist could be a stranger, but it’s common for victims to know their attacker.
  • People who commit rape can be sentenced to life in prison.
  • Sexual assault is when someone is forced or pressured into performing sexual activity they don’t want to do, or is touched in a sexual way.
  • People who commit sexual assault can get up to 10 years in prison.


SEXTING - What is it?

 Sexting is when someone sends or receives a sexually explicit text, image or video.  This includes sending ‘nude pics’, ‘rude pics’, or ‘nude selfies’. Taking, possessing or sharing a sexually explicit picture or video of someone under 18 is against the law.

It doesn’t matter if they gave you permission, someone else sent it to you, you’ve never met them before, you are under 18 too or it’s a selfie. You and anyone else involved could be investigated by the police, and this could even affect your future education and employment.

If you are over 18 and you send an image of yourself to someone who is also over 18, this is not a crime. However, you should consider the other consequences of sending and sharing images.