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Child sexual exploitation (CSE) – advice for multi-agency practitioners

What is child sexual exploitation?

CSE is a form of child sexual abuse that affects both boys and girls. Sexual abuse may involve physical contact, including assault by penetration (e.g. rape or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing and touching outside clothing. It may include non-contact activities, such as involving children in the production of sexual images, forcing children to look at sexual images or watch sexual activities, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways, or grooming a child in preparation for abuse (including via the internet).  It is also linked to other forms of exploitation such as criminal exploitation, harmful sexual behaviour and peer-on-peer abuse.

The definition of child sexual exploitation is as follows:

Child sexual exploitation is a form of child sexual abuse. It occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into sexual activity (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or (b) for the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator. The victim may have been sexually exploited even if the sexual activity appears consensual. Child sexual exploitation does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur through the use of technology.


What to do if you suspect a child or young person may be sexually exploited

Any professional or member of the public can refer a concern about suspected child sexual exploitation.

Remember – where there is an urgent and immediate need to protect a child or young person call the police on 999.

In all cases of suspected child sexual exploitation contact Children Social Care services via the MASH (multi-agency safeguarding hub) on 0208 545 4226/7.

If you are a professional making a referral you will be asked to complete the CSE screening tool and risk assessment

This information is to be emailed to


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