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Child Exploitation

What is child exploitation?

Child Exploitation is a form of child abuse. It involves a child being tricked, coerced or forced to commit crimes for others or to take part in sexual activity. This abuse takes place away from the home and family environment.

Child Exploitation can happen to any child and takes place across the Country.

Whilst children can sometimes feel that they are making the ‘choice’ to take part in this behaviour, they cannot consent to their own exploitation.

Child Exploitation is often split into 2 different categories. However, it is important to recognise that Child Exploitation can involve both types.

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)

CSE involves an individual or group taking advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, control, manipulate or deceive a child into a sexual act. This act would be for the benefit of someone else. Sometimes they may receive attention, affection, money, drugs/alcohol or gifts in exchange (although not always).

Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE)

CCE involves an individual or group taking advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, control, manipulate or deceive a child into committing a crime. This can involve ‘County Drug Lines’ which would relate to a child being involved in the movement of drugs or dealing these. However, it can involve any criminal act. For example, taking part in a Robbery/Burglary for the benefit of someone else; or allowing their bank/gaming account to be used for laundering of money.

What to look out for?

It’s not always easy to spot the signs of Child Exploitation. Often the biggest sign is a change in their behaviour. Where possible, try talking to your child about your worries.

Some signs to look out for include:

  • Being frightened of some people, places or situations
  • Increasing secrecy
  • Sharp changes in mood or character
  • Having money or things that cannot be explained
  • Physical signs of abuse (bruises, cuts, injuries without an explanation)
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Increase in missing episodes
  • Substance misuse
  • Increase in travel in/outside of the County
  • Significantly older peers
  • Meeting people in person that they have only spoken to online
  • Seen getting into/out of vehicles that you do not know

Any one of these signs doesn’t necessarily mean that a child is being exploited, but the presence of several suggests that you should begin to ask questions and consider seeking help.

Recognising and talking to your child

If you are worried that your child may be being exploited, talk to them. It is important that they know that you are concerned. Even if they don’t feel ready to tell you, they know that you have noticed.

Tips for starting this discussion:

  1. Only start a discussion when you feel prepared and ready to. These discussions are best not to be rushed. Sometimes it is easier to have a discussion when you are not talking face-to-face. This could be in a car.
  2. Be clear about what you are noticing, for example “I saw you talking to that person outside the house yesterday”
  3. Ask a curious question. Try to not ask them lot’s of questions as this may close down the conversation. For example, you may ask “Do I know them? Are they from school?”
  4. Listen to their response. If you don’t understand something this is okay. Be honest and ask them to explain in more detail if they can. Let the child say everything they want to say before offering an opinion or advice.
  5. If they don’t talk to you, that is ok. Recognise that they may not feel safe in that moment.
  6. End the conversation with a ‘care’ response. For example, you may say “I am worried about you.”
  7. Let the child know that you are available to talk to when they feel ready.
  8. Be clear, if they have told you information, that you will need to share this.

Online safety and gaming.

Child Exploitation can take place online. Children have greater access to devices that are internet enabled in their lives. This can include: Smart TV’s, gaming devices, mobile phones and computers/laptops. This has created greater opportunities for exploiters to reach children.

Parental controls

Parental controls are very important to keeping children safe online. Internet Matters provides specific guidance for how to put these on for each individual device – Parental Controls & Privacy Settings Guides | Internet Matters

Live Streaming

There has been a rise in children Live Streaming in recent years. This carries similar risks to other online activity. We would encourage the following safety advice:

  • Encourage your child to only Live Stream when you are present
  • Have open conversations about why they wish to live stream and what they plan to do in the live stream
  • Where possible, ensure this takes place in an open space
  • Ensure that they are not wearing school uniform, or anything else that would share information about them
  • Ensure that photos, door numbers, road names cannot be seen


It is very common for children to now be gaming. This is often an important part of their development and how they socialise. However, it can create opportunities for exploitation online.

Some exploitation online can include children receiving gaming credits/money for sending indecent images of themselves. Exploiters can also ask for their gaming/bank details so that they can launder money through their account. It is important that children don’t talk to people online that they don’t know in real life.

The below terminology is important to understand if your child is gaming:

Skins – These are avatars that come with most games. Changing your ‘skin’ usually requires a financial cost and certain skins are more desirable/cost more.

Nube – This refers to the ‘skin’ that comes with you joining the game. Nube refers to ‘newbie’ in the game. Nube often has negative connotations and most young people will want to buy a new skin quickly to avoid being referred to as a Nube. Nube’s are known to be targeted for exploitation online as they will be encouraged to do things in exchange for gaming credits/gift cards. We would always suggest a parent considering uploading a small amount of credit to enable your child to change their ‘skin’ straight away.

Crypto-Currency – A digital currency

Loot Boxes – These are often earnt/bought in gaming apps. They are similar to a scratch card in that you do not know what the prize may be. These can be gifted by exploiters through the game.

Where can I get help and advice?

Do you need immediate help or have a real emergency? If so call 999. If it is not an emergency, you can contact your local Police at

If you are worried about yourself or someone you know being exploited there are some organisations that can help:

  1. Buckinghamshire Children’s Services have a team that are there to help you. You can also discuss any concerns by contacting First Response.
    First Response Team
    Telephone: 01296 383 962, Monday to Thursday, 9am to 5.30pm or Friday 9am to 5pm
  2. If you need an urgent response outside of these hours, contact the Emergency Duty Team (EDT) on 0800 999 7677
  3. CEOP  – Has someone acted inappropriately towards your child online, or to a child or young person you know? It may be sexual chat, being asked to do something that makes them feel uncomfortable or someone being insistent on meeting up. Report it at
  4. Ivison – works alongside parents and carers of children who are being, or are at risk of being, sexually exploited by perpetrators external to the family
  5. ThinkUknow – The latest information on the sites children and young people like to visit, mobiles and new technology. If you look after young people there’s an area for you too – with resources you can use in the classroom or at home. Most importantly, there’s also a place which anyone can use to report if they feel uncomfortable or worried about someone they are chatting to online.
  6. The Children’s Society is a national charity working to transform the hopes and happiness of young people facing abuse, exploitation and neglect. The website includes The Slang Dictionary which is a useful resource for parents/carers
  7. Victims First: Support families to overcome the harm caused by crime. Support for Victims of Crime in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire ·