Sometimes, people might want to take advantage of you and ask you to do sexual things and you might find yourself in dangerous situations without even realising it…  this is called child sexual exploitation (CSE) and it’s not okay for this to happen to a young person. It is abuse and young people have the right to be safe from it.

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. But later, the behaviour of the abuser starts to change, often slowly. By this point, the young person is likely to feel trapped, isolated and scared, and they may find it difficult to acknowledge that they are no longer comfortable in the relationship.

Here are some of the messages from local young people who have been sexually exploited:
• Don’t hang around with people who you aren’t willing to take home
• Keep safe online: don’t share personal information or meet up with anyone you’ve met online
• Speak to teachers or someone you trust
• If you feel someone is not safe, tell someone – you are almost certainly right
• Look out for your friends – many young people who are being abused think they’re in a normal ‘loving’ relationship and will not ask for help.

Where to go for more information?

If you’re worried about you or a friend, talk to someone you trust (like a teacher or a youth worker) or call the council on 01275 888801 or the Police on 101 to talk things through. If you’re in immediate danger, dial 999 straight away.

Barnardos helps to raise awareness around Child Sexual Exploitation and what a healthy and safe relationship is.