Child Sexual Exploitation

Information for Parents

Before explaining child sexual exploitation, it is helpful to understand what is meant by the age of consent (the age at which it is legal to have sex). This is 16 for everyone in the UK. Under the age of 16, any sort of sexual touching is illegal.

It is illegal to take, show or distribute indecent photographs of children, or to pay or arrange for sexual services from children.

It is also against the law if someone in a position of trust (such as a teacher) has sex with a person under 18 that they have responsibility for.



Child sexual exploitation is when people use the power they have over young people to sexually abuse them. Their power may result from a difference in age, gender, intellect, strength, money or other resources. 

People often think of child sexual exploitation in terms of serious organized crime, but it also covers abuse in relationships (NHS Livewell) and may involve informal exchanges of sex for something a child wants or needs, such as accommodation, gifts, cigarettes or attention. Some children are "groomed" through "boyfriends" who then force the child or young person into having sex with friends or associates. 

Sexual abuse covers penetrative sexual acts, sexual touching, masturbation and the misuse of sexual images – such as on the internet or by mobile phone. 

Part of the challenge of tackling child sexual exploitation is that the children and young people involved may not understand that non-consensual sex (sex they haven't agreed to) or forced sex – including oral sex – is rape.



‘Grooming’ is the term used for the clever way in which the abuser manipulates and takes advantage of the young person they have targeted. Abusers groom their victims by befriending them and making them feel special, buying gifts and showering them with attention. In most cases, the abuser will have some form of power over their victim. It may be that the abuser is older or more emotionally mature, they may be physically stronger or in a position in which they are able to control the young person.

Young people can be groomed face to face but also through the use of technology, particularly social media websites. The increased use of the internet and social networking over recent years as well as a significant rise in the use of mobile phones by young people has made it much easier for abusers to groom and exploit young people.

What are the signs?

What are the signs?

Signs of child sexual exploitation include the child or young person:

  • going missing for periods of time or regularly returning home late
  • skipping school or being disruptive in class
  • appearing with unexplained gifts or possessions that can’t be accounted for
  • experiencing health problems that may indicate a sexually transmitted infection
  • having mood swings and changes in temperament
  • using drugs and/or alcohol
  • displaying inappropriate sexualised behaviour, such as over-familiarity with strangers, dressing in a sexualised manner or sending sexualised images by mobile phone ("sexting")
  • they may also show signs of unexplained physical harm, such as bruising and cigarette burns

Sexual exploitation can be very difficult to identify. Warning signs can easily be mistaken for 'normal' teenage behaviour.

Young people who are being sexually exploited may:

  • be involved in abusive relationships, intimidated and fearful of certain people or situations
  • hang out with groups of older people, or antisocial groups, or with other vulnerable peers
  • associate with other young people involved in sexual exploitation
  • get involved in gangs, gang fights, gang membership
  • have older boyfriends or girlfriends
  • spend time at places of concern, such as hotels or known brothels
  • not know where they are, because they have been moved around the country
  • go missing from home, care or education.


Make a referral into the school nursing service by completing an online referral form

Thriving Kirklees Referral Form

Calderdale Referral Form

Useful Links

Pace - Parents against Child Sexual Exploitation

Useful Contacts

If you're worried about a child, even if you're unsure, phone the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000.

Click here for their safeguarding page

Click here for their preventing child abuse page

Please contact the school nurse on:

Kirklees - 030 0304 5555

Calderdale - 030 3330 9974

Safe Hands (The Children’s Society) Calderdale Council - 01422 430495 or [email protected]

If you are worried or have any concerns for the safety of a child in Calderdale please call the Multi Agency Screening Team (MAST) 01422 393336 (office hours only) or visit their website by clicking here.

Out of office hours please contact the emergency duty team on 01422 288000

If you are worried or have any concerns for the safety of a child in Kirklees please call 01484 45684

If you feel your child/another child is in serious risk of harm please call the POLICE by dialling 999.

Here are some video's

For boys

For girls