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Sexual Exploitation

What is sexual exploitation?

This is a type of sexual abuse where a young person or child is tricked or pressured by an adult or friends of a similar age, in to a sexual activity in return for something, this can be attention, love, food, shelter, cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, gifts or money.

It happens to boys and girls and can happen online as well. They may believe that this person is their friend or boyfriend or girlfriend, but they may be threatening and manipulating them without them realising.

How does sexual exploitation happen?

Young man and teenage girlBeing exploited can happen slowly, over a long period of time. The perpetrator may start to show the child or young person lots of interest and affection, making them feel really special.

The child or young person might get taken to parties and offered drugs and alcohol; they may be brought things like nice clothes, trainers and mobile phones.

Once the perpetrator has gained the trust and affection of the young person, things will change; they will start to ask for sexual favours for themselves or other people in return for the gifts, alcohol and drugs.

They will stop being nice and can start to become threatening and violent.

What are the warning signs of sexual exploitation?

If you’re worried that a child is being sexual exploited, there are signs you can look out for:

  • Having an older boyfriend or girlfriend
  • Hanging out with new older friends
  • Staying out late or going missing from home and school
  • Being bought presents or given food, money, drink, cigarettes or drugs
  • Being secretive about what they’re doing and who they’re with
  • Spending increasing amounts of time talking secretly with new friends
  • Receiving calls or texts from strangers asking to meet up
  • Misusing drugs or alcohol
  • Accepting lifts from people they don’t know
  • A sudden change in their behaviour – becoming aggressive and disruptive, or quiet and withdrawn

There can be a big age gap between victim and perpetrator, but it can also be peer-on-peer, it can happen to boys as well as girls and the perpetrator can be male or female.

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. PACE (Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation) – PACE 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.