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Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) for Children and Young People

Being in a new relationship can be exciting. It is normal to feel happy and to enjoy feeling special or loved. But relationships can change and things can go wrong.

Boy standing with blue eyes

A healthy relationship should be based on respect, kindness and trust. It should make you feel good. It should not make you feel pressured into doing things that make you feel uncomfortable or unhappy. If this starts to happen then it might be time to end the relationship or seek help and advice.

Do you know it is not ok for someone to make or ask you to do sexual things for their, or others, benefit or enjoyment. This is a form of sexual abuse and it is against the law. For example, someone may try and get you to do sexual things by:

  • offering you money or other things like a mobile phone, etc
  • hurting or threatening to hurt you, a family member or friend
  • humiliating or threatening to humiliate you
  • buying you presents
  • taking you out to places
  • giving you a place to stay
  • telling you that they love you.

It is not always easy to know when you are being sexually exploited, especially if it is your friend, boyfriend or girlfriend that is exploiting you. Learn how to spot the signs

What is Grooming

Grooming is when someone tries to pressure you into doing something sexual. This can happen online or in person. If someone is a groomer, they might start by being nice to you, giving you attention or buying you gifts to make you like them. However, they may then start to force you into sexual activity and ask you to keep secrets. The may also threaten or blackmail you so you don't tell anyone. Sexual activity can include sexting, sending naked images or performing sexual acts.

Online, people can pretend to be someone they are not, so it is important that you don't trust people unless you really know who they are.

Groomers can be the same age as you, older or younger. They can be both male and female. They can be very persuasive, and so it is important to speak out if anything happens that makes you feel worried or uncomfortable.

What is sexting?

Sexting includes sending naked or sexual images and having sexual conversations. You should not feel pressured into doing this by anyone, and it is important to remember that once you send a text like this you cannot control where it goes.

It is illegal for anyone to have a sexual photo of someone under the age of 18. This includes photos you have taken yourself. This means that if someone forces you to take or share a sexual photo they are breaking the law.

If you have already shared an image, you should ask for the person to delete it. If it is online you can request this to be removed.


Any sexual activity is a big decision and it is important that you do this at a time that is right for you.  You should never feel pressured into any sexual activity or doing things that make you feel uncomfortable or worried.

Consent means that you are saying yes to something without feeling like you have to. People should always ask each other for consent, even in relationships. It is also important to remember that you should give consent each time. Saying yes once does not mean saying yes always. You cannot give consent if you are under 16 or under the influence of drugs or if you are drunk.

If you are not sure about any of this you should speak to someone you trust, like a parent, teacher or youth worker, or you can talk to Childline or access further information on their website

If you are worried about yourself or a friend please call 030 33 33 3001 and ask for the Social Work Access team or call Childline on 0800 1111.

You can find out more about child sexual exploitation and see some real stories from children and young people who have experienced this themselves -

Spot the Signs

Are you being sexually exploited?

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