Child sexual exploitation is a form of child sexual abuse.
Child sexual exploitation happens through control, coercion, force, enticement and bribery – it never happens through choice. Young people as well as adults can commit child sexual exploitation.
Child sexual exploitation can affect girls and boys of any age, including 16 and 17 year olds. It can happen indoors, outdoors and online, and in any community including remote areas and villages, as well as towns and cities.
If a child or young person is being sexual exploited they may become more secretive, go missing for long periods of time, including overnight and take time out of school. They may appear to have money and new items which there is no explanation for. They may be using drugs and alcohol and suddenly have a new group of friends or an older boyfriend or girlfriend.
It’s important to understand that child sexual exploitation might not always feel harmful to a child or young person, but it has a damaging impact on the child or young person themselves, and on those around them.
If you are concerned that a child or young person is being sexually exploited, it’s always better to say something than do nothing – see our Get Help section for sources of help and advice.