Sexual Exploitation information for Parents and Carers

What is Child Sexual Exploitation

Child Sexual Exploitation is where someone is taking advantage of a child sexually for their own benefit.

Some people use technology to make contact with children and young people with the intention of 'grooming' them.  To groom someone is to prepare someone to do something sexual for the benefit of the person making contact.  Those who seek to groom children or young people might try to gain their trust by using a fake profile picture and fake personal details and by pretending to have similar interests in them.

People who try to groom children and young people want them to believe their lies so that they can get information about them:

  • their age
  • where they live
  • who else might use the computer that they use or
  • who else has access to their mobile phone

Once the groomer has got lots of information from the child or young person about them, they often move conversations towards sexual experiences and interests, often asking the child or young person to send sexual photographs or videos of themselves.  Some might want to arrange to meet up in real life, others might try to blackmail them or threatening to share the images/pictures they may have sent with family and friends if the child or young person refused to do what they are being asked to do.

Online grooming can also take place via chat rooms, instant messaging, social networking sites, on line gaming and email and can involve the child or young person being asked to:

  • chat about sex online
  • do sexual things on webcam
  • share naked or sexual pictures of themselves
  • look at, or watch pictures or videos of others doing sexual things
  • online pornography
  • watch the person they are speaking with do sexual things, such as exposing themselves
  • meet up face to face with the person they have been speaking to online.

Online grooming can happen to both boys and girls, of any age, and whatever their sexuality and no matter where they're from or what their cultural background is.

How to spot the signs

Even something that seems like normal teenage behaviour could be a sign that a child is being exploited.

These can include:

  • Increasing or secretive mobile phone or other devise use
  • a significantly older 'boyfriend' or 'friend' or lots of new friends
  • change in behaviour - becoming secretive, argumentative, aggressive, disruptive, quiet, withdrawn
  • having unexplained gifts or new possessions such as clothes, jewellery, mobile phones or having money or access to other goods such as alcohol that can't be accounted for
  • regularly missing from home or school, or unexplained periods of time and or staying out late or all night

If you have concerns about a child you know, who may be at risk of being sexually exploited

Call the Children's Access Point in Darlington on 01325 406222.

Call the police on 101 or 999 in an emergency

Further information and advice, visit the PACE (Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation) website [external link]