Did You Know

One in five indecent images of children shared online were taken by the child themselves.

CSE is a type of sexual abuse and a very serious issue that can affect children and young people under the age of 18 from all backgrounds and communities in the UK. It involves a child or young person being exploited, manipulated and convinced to perform sexual acts (or have sexual acts performed onto them) in exchange of ‘something’ (e.g. presents, money, alcohol, a place to stay, drugs, affection etc.)

CSE is often described as a “hidden” crime because there isn’t a clear profile of what a perpetrator/exploiter looks like – especially to the child or young person experiencing it. They can be male, female, older, or even the same age as the young person. As a result, a victim of CSE can easily get lured into an exploitative relationship through a steady process of coercion known as grooming.

Grooming is a process by which a perpetrator befriends and gains the emotional trust of a child for the purpose of sexually abusing or exploiting them. It is a carefully planned process with the aim of controlling a child so that they do whatever the perpetrator wants, and most children in the process do not understand that it is happening.
Grooming can occur offline with the perpetrator luring the child into a seemingly loving relationship. However in this age of increased technological activity, online grooming is becoming more prevalent with perpetrators using websites, forums, and social media platforms to gain the trust of their victims by pretending to be someone of different age or gender. Once trust is gained, they may talk the child into sending sexual photographs or having sexually explicit conversations (also known as sexting); performing sexual activities via smartphone or webcam, and eventually arranging a meet up with the intention of abusing them.

Trafficking also known as organised /networked sexual exploitation) is another form of CSE where young people are passed (across houses or hotels; towns or cities; and sometimes internationally) between groups of perpetrators. The young person is usually invited to “parties” where they may be given alcohol and drugs, and coerced/forced into sexual activity with (sometimes multiple) adults. A common feature of this type of CSE is that young people are often used to recruit other young people to be eventually exploited.

CSE can also happen to young people in gangs. This form of CSE can involve:      
  • Using sex as a means of initiating young people into the gang
  • A young person performing sexual acts in return for “protection” or “status”
  • Inflicting sexual assault as a weapon in conflict
  • Entrapping a rival gang member by feigning sexual interest or establishing a relationship with them
  • Exploiting as a means of exerting power and control over members
CSE and the Law
At present there isn’t a specific Law for CSE. However, there are a range of sexual offences that fall under the umbrella of CSE the can be used to prosecute a perpetrator. The Sexual Offences Act 2003 and Serious Crime Act 2015 are often used to convict offenders of offences such as:
  • Rape
  • Sexual assault
  • Sexual activity with a child
  • Possessing indecent images of children
  • Distribution of indecent images of a child
  • Making indecent images of a child
  • Inciting a child to engage in sexual activity
  • Abuse of position of trust
  • Meeting a child following sexual grooming
  • Trafficking within the UK for sexual exploitation
  • Trafficking out of/into the UK for sexual exploitation
  • Administering a substance with intent to commit a sexual offence

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