Shropshire Council

Child sexual exploitation

Sexual exploitation of children and young people under 18 involves exploitative situations, contexts and relationships where young people (or a third person or persons) receive 'something' (e.g. food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, affection, gifts, money) as a result of them performing, and/or another or others performing on them, sexual activities.

Child sexual exploitation can occur through the use of technology without the child's immediate recognition; for example being persuaded to post sexual images on the Internet/mobile phones without immediate payment or gain.

In all cases, those exploiting the child/young person have power over them by virtue of their age, gender, intellect, physical strength and/or economic or other resources. Violence, coercion and intimidation are common, involvement in exploitative relationships being characterised in the main by the child or young person's limited availability of choice resulting from their social/economic and/or emotional vulnerability.

This definition of child sexual exploitation was created by the UK National Working Group for Sexually Exploited Children and Young People (NWG) and is used in statutory guidance for England.

The following lists some of the support services for children and young people (and their families) who have become subjected to child sexual exploitation.

Local support services for parents/carers and children/young people


Do you have concerns for the welfare or safety of child? Do you want advice on identifying risk or offering early help? If yes call Compass on 0345 678 9021 for a consultation or to make a referral. We'll direct you and the family to the right services to meet the need identified. This could be targeted early help or social work assessment. We'll always work with a family on a voluntary basis through early help if it's safe for the child to do so.

Shropshire Safeguarding Board

A healthy relationship is one where you feel loved, safe, respected and free to be yourself. Not all relationships are healthy. Some relationships are abusive. It is important to remember that:

  • Abuse in a relationship can happen to anyone.
  • It's NEVER ok.
  • It can destroy your self-confidence, have a negative impact on your health and wellbeing and leave you feeling isolated and lonely.


CRUSH is all about helping young people make safe, healthy relationships. The CRUSH project is for anyone aged 13 -19 who has experienced, witnessed or would like awareness of abusive relationships. CRUSH is suitable for both males and females, as well as those exhibiting victim and perpetrator traits.

  • Crush referral Line: 0800 014 9084
  • Email:

National support services for parents/carers and children/young people

Join the fight against child sexual exploitation

Don't be afraid, say something. 24/7, free, anonymous, call or text, 116 000. Our network links professionals involved in creating the best response for children and young people and their families who have become subjected to child sexual exploitation

  • Telephone: 01332 585371
  • Email:


Who does it happen to? Any young person can be a victim of child sexual exploitation. It can happen to boys as well as girls. It can happen to young people of all races and backgrounds. Who does it? People who commit this crime can be male or female and they normally have an ‘edge’ over the young people they target. How does it happen? At first, a young person may like, respect, or even think they are falling in love with the person exploiting them. This is because they are ‘groomed’ over time. This process involves making them feel ‘special’, so they become attached.

Use Barnardo’s top three tips to keep yourself safe from exploitation:

  • Trust yourself to know when something is wrong. If someone makes you feel unsafe, pressured or frightened, follow your instincts and seek help.
  • Don’t trust people you don’t know, even if they seem friendly - and make sure you know who you are talking to online. Never give away personal details or agree to meet someone who you have only talked to online.
  • Don’t be tricked into doing things that are unsafe, even if they seem like fun. What might look exciting at first could be more dangerous than you realise.

Spot the signs: sexual exploitation affects thousands of children and young people every year. By knowing the tell-tale signs, we can all play an important role in reducing that number.

Gut Instinct

Whether you’re concerned about your own relationship, or worried about someone else, it’s important to remember that child sexual exploitation can happen without the victim realising.

Digital dangers

What is the impact of technology on the sexual abuse and exploitation of children and young people?


Child sexual exploitation is a hidden crime. Young people often trust their abuser and don't understand that they're being abused. They may depend on their abuser or be too scared to tell anyone what's happening.

Call the NSPCC helpline If you're worried about a child, even if you're unsure, contact our professional counsellors 24/7 for help, advice and support.

  • Telephone: 0808 800 5000
  • Email

Child trafficking

Child trafficking is child abuse. Children are recruited, moved or transported and then exploited, forced to work or sold. They are often subject to multiple forms of exploitation.

National support services for children/young people

18 or under? ChildLine offers free, confidential advice and support whatever your worry, whenever you need help. You can call ChildLine at any time on: 0800 1111 to speak to a counsellor. Calls are free and confidential. Chat to a ChildLine counsellor online in a 1-2-1 session any time you want. Sign up to start talking.

Think U Know

Think U Know offers advice to young people on sex, relationships and staying safe online. It may be talking about sex, asking you to send nude photos of yourself, or pressuring you to meet in real life. You can report this using their online Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) ‘Report it’ button. They’ll ask for information about you and what’s happened, which will help them to understand more about the situation and keep you safe.

Respect not Fear

The Respect not Fear site was developed by the Nottinghamshire domestic violence forum in consultation with young people. The site contains games and advice which can help you think about your relationships, or you can make a pledge to find out what you can expect in a relationship and what shouldn’t be tolerated.


Brook provides a service for all young people under 25 across the UK, working tirelessly to educate, raise awareness and actively protect young people from child sexual exploitation (CSE). You can access the Ask Brook 24/7 tool anytime, and can contact an advisor by text on 07537 402 024 (standard SMS rates).

Grooming happens both online and in person. Groomers will hide their true intentions and may spend a long time gaining a child's trust. They may also try to gain the trust of the whole family so they can be alone with the child.

Groomers can use social media sites, instant messaging apps including dating apps, or online gaming platforms to connect with a young person or child.

If you or someone you know has been abused, it can be very hard to talk about it and it can also be hard to know how to get out of the situation. We offer advice on getting help if you or a friend are being abused, including who to talk to, getting away and safety planning. We have also listed all the organisations who can help.

National support services for parents


PACE helps parents across the UK understand what is happening to their child and how parents are the prime agents in helping their child exit exploitative relationships. It does this by offering:

  • One-to-one telephone advice and support to parents
  • Facilitating meetings with similarly-affected parents for peer support
  • Advising how to establish rights as parents and work in partnership with statutory agents such as police and social workers
  • Advice and support when pursuing disruption and prosecution of the perpetrators of child sexual exploitation
  • Befriending scheme

Call us on 0113 240 3040.

Resources and leaflets


Barnardo’s is the largest provider of child sexual exploitation (CSE) support in the UK. We have worked with sexually exploited children and young people for more than 20 years, and have specialist services in over 40 locations.

PACE resource for parents find out if a person has a record for child sexual offences

The child sex offender disclosure scheme lets those who care for young people find out if a person has a record for child sexual offences. The scheme allows parents, carers and guardians to formally ask the police to tell them if someone has a record for child sexual offences. The aim of this scheme is to keep children safer.

SSCB information for practitioners - child sexual exploitation

  • Sexual exploitation of children and young people under 18 involves exploitative situations, contexts and relationships where young people (or a third person or persons) receive 'something' (e.g. food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, affection, gifts, money) as a result of them performing, and/or another or others performing on them, sexual activities.
  • Statutory guidance outlining how organisations and individuals should work together to protect young people from sexual exploitation.  
  • Multi-agency guidance on threshold criteria to help support children, young people and their families in Shropshire. 
  • CSE procedures and local pathway and toolkit
  • Practitioners’ child sexual exploitation toolkit

SSCB information for practitioners

This risk identification form should be completed by practitioners who suspect that a child/young person is at risk of sexual exploitation. Toolkit appendices:

  • CSE guidance for practitioners
  • CSE risk assessment tool
  • CSE intelligence report form
  • Threshold document - accessing the right service at the right time

These appendices are available from the West Midlands Safeguarding Children Procedures website.

Brook traffic light guidance

The Brook traffic light guidance helps professionals who work with children and young people to identify, assess and respond appropriately to sexual behaviours. It uses a 'traffic light tool' to categorise sexual behaviours, to increase understanding of healthy sexual development and distinguish this from harmful behaviour. By identifying sexual behaviours as green, amber or red, professionals across different agencies can work to the same criteria when making decisions, and protect children and young people with a unified approach.

We update this information on a regular basis. If you notice any links are broken or information has changed please contact and we'll update the information.