What is CSE?

Child sexual exploitation is a form of child sexual abuse. It occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into sexual activity. 

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People who commit child sexual exploitation often ‘groom’ their victims to gain their trust.

Later, when the behaviour of the abuser starts to change, many children are too frightened to come forward, or don't realise they are being abused.

They may suffer in silence for years without anyone to talk to about what they’re going through.

It happens to children from all backgrounds and communities, right across the UK, out of sight and behind closed doors. It happens to both boys and girls, online or offline.

Child sexual exploitation doesn't always involve physical contact. It can also happen through the use of technology too.  

And a victim may have been sexually exploited, even if it appears consensual.

Child sexual exploitation is never the young person’s fault, even when they 'agree' to the sexual activity.

We are the largest provider of CSE support in the UK

We have been supporting sexually exploited children for more than 20 years. We run specialist services in various locations across the UK. We reach out to young people at risk of or experiencing CSE and offer them confidential support in a safe environment, including:

  • one-to-one counselling
  • group work and drop-in sessions
  • helping young people to report their experience and feel supported in the criminal justice system
  • raising awareness of CSE
  • running programmes in schools to help prevent CSE before it happens
  • training professionals and people in the community to spot the signs of CSE
  • campaigning for changes in the law to make it easier for abusers to be brought to justice

Barnardo’s helped me realise what was happening, and then they helped me escape. The worker helped me mend the broken relationship with my mum and get the whole family back on track.


Young person

Get help

Talk to trained counsellors on the 24 hour helplines run by Childline on 0800 11 11 and the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000.

If you think a child is in immediate danger, call the police on 999.

If you are in Scotland, you can anonymously report suspicions or concerns about CSE via our dedicated hotline set up with Crimestoppers. You can also call 0800 389 0131.