Child Exploitation is a type of abuse in which children are sexually or criminally exploited for money, power or status. It is against the law.

Children or young people may be tricked into believing they're in a loving, consensual relationship. They might be invited to parties and given drugs and alcohol. They may also be groomed online.

Some children and young people are trafficked into or within the UK for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Sexual exploitation can also happen to young people in gangs.


Child or young person

Some adults may try to buy a young person's trust with expensive gifts; these gifts are often bribes to make you feel you have to do something in return. For example they may ask for you to:Closeup of a young person with writing on their face

  • Perform sexual acts on them.
  • Take part in sexual acts with their friends.
  • Send naked photographs to them or their friends.
  • Take part in things you may feel uncomfortable with e.g. drugs taking or stealing to prove your ‘love’ and loyalty.
  • If you (or a friend) are affected, then it is important to remember it is not your fault, you are not alone and there are people and organisations that can help.

Parents and guardians

Signs of a child or young person being in an exploitative relationship can vary. Some examples are:

  • going missing from home or care
  • physical injuries
  • misuse of drugs or alcohol
  • involvement in offending
  • repeat sexually-transmitted infections, pregnancies or terminations
  • absenteeism from school
  • deterioration in physical appearance
  • evidence of online sexual bullying
  • evidence of vulnerability on social networking sites
  • emotional distance from family members
  • receiving gifts from unknown sources
  • recruiting others into exploitative situations
  • poor mental health
  • self-harming
  • thinking about or attempting suicide

How can I protect myself?

Staying safe online

The internet is a great educational resource for children, giving them access to a world of information and new experiences however there are also risks to going online. If you and your child understand them and can make sensible choices, they can get the most from the internet and stay safe while doing so.

  • Keep the computer in your family room where you can monitor your child’s activities and spend time online together to show your child proper behaviour and rules.
  • Become more computer literate – get to know the sites your child uses, what type of information they offer and whether there are ways to block out inappropriate material.
  • Help your child to understand some people lie online - they should never meet up with any strangers without an adult they trust.
  • The internet is not a private space – advise your children not to post any pictures, videos or information on their profiles or in chat rooms that they would not want a parent or guardian to see.
  • Never give out personal information online such as your home address, telephone number or child’s school name.
  • Always keep in mind that you leave information about yourself behind as you move through the internet.
  • Some websites collect information called ‘cookies’. Cookies are compiled lists of information that may include your name, address, telephone number and possibly even your credit card number. Find out how to turn off your cookies – contact your internet provider for help if you need it.
  • Never allow a child to arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone they have met online without your permission. If a meeting is arranged, make the first meeting in a public place and accompany your child to the meeting. If in doubt, contact the police.
  • Do not allow your child to respond to messages or bulletin board items that are suggestive, obscene or threatening. Forward a copy of such messages your internet service provider.
  • Do not allow them to access private chat rooms unless you are present.
  • Consider using an online service that has special child accounts with restricted access to chat rooms and the internet.
  • Monitor your credit card bill. Many pornographic internet sites require credit card payments in order to gain access.
  • Visit for more information on staying safe online.


Where can I get help and further information?

Children and young people

For children or young people who believe they may be a victim of sexual exploitation or feel uncomfortable or worried about anything happening in their life, tell someone that you can trust today.

If you or someone close to you thinks they may be at risk from a potential sexual offender, contact:

Parents and guardians

Advice and guidance is available from Catch 22: Pan Merseyside Child Exploitation Service or you may wish to seek advice at  Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation (PACE). This is a national charity working to support parents whose children are at risk of, or are already victims of, child sexual exploitation.

This is a national charity working to support parents whose children are at risk of, or are already victims of, child sexual exploitation.


Further information


The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF). Working in partnership with police, government, the internet and mobile phone industries, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) operates the UK Hotline for reporting criminal online content. The IWF’s service is free to the general public to help minimise the availability of illegal content and protect internet users, visit their website to find out more.


Catch 22: Pan Merseyside Child Exploitation Service


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