Preventing and disrupting Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) in Sussex is a high priority for West Sussex County Council and all our partners.
If you are a child (legally, that means anyone 17 and under) and you are worried about something happening in your own relationship, or a friend's, keep reading this page and visit our Your Space site which tells you everything you need to know about CSE, including:
- an explanation of what CSE is
- how it happens
- spotting the warning signs
- how to get help.
So what is Child Sexual Exploitation?
CSE occurs when a child (anyone aged 18 and under) is used by being tricked or forced into doing something sexual in return for something - like love, affection, money, drugs or alcohol.
It happens in the real world and online.
It's a kind of abuse, although children and young people often do not see it that way, because they are groomed (tricked) by the abusers:
“Through threats, bribes, violence, humiliation, or by telling you that they love you, they will have the power to get you to do sexual things for their own, or other people’s benefit or enjoyment (including touching or kissing private parts, sex, taking sexual photos)." (NWGNetwork, 2008)
- Do you stay out overnight?
- Have you been missing from home?
- Do you miss school? (even for a couple of lessons or during lunch and breaks)
- Does a grown up outside your family give you money, clothes, jewellery, a mobile phone or other presents?
- Do you have an older boyfriend or girlfriend?
- Do you take drugs/and or drink alcohol?
- Are you losing touch with your friends or family?
- Do you hate yourself sometimes?
- Are you secretive about where you go and who you see?
- Do you chat to people online you have never met?
If this sounds like your life, or if you're worried about a friend, you or your friend could be at risk of CSE by other people or older adults.
Taking risks is part of growing up, but sometimes young people get out of their depth and need some help.
Services across West Sussex are ready to help. You will be listened to, believed and never judged.
If something is happening to you, say something:
- tell a friend who you know will consult with a teacher
- tell an adult
- ring 101 and report it to the police
For confidential support and advice:
Call the Police on 101 or 999 in an emergency
- text or call the National CSE helpline anonymously on 116 000
- call the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub on 01403 229900
- call Boys and Young Men’s Online Support on 07921 372896
You have a right to feel safe at all times. Reach out for help - don’t suffer in silence.
So how does it happen?
Some adults draw children and young people into sexual relationships. This is how it can happen:
- Other young people or adults are nice to you.
- They show you a lot of interest and affection at the beginning, and make you feel special.
- Sometimes they ask groups of young people to come back to their house with older adults.
- They offer you drugs and alcohol and a place to chill out.
- They may even buy you presents like clothes, a mobile phone, even give you enough money to buy things like cigarettes.
- When they have gained your trust and affection, they may change how they act around you.
- They will ask for sex, nude photos, or sexual touching for themselves or other people, in return for alcohol, drugs, presents, money; all the things they gave you for free before.
- They stop being nice and become threatening and violent.
- They blame you for what is happening.
Remember you are not to blame if this is happening to you.
The West Sussex Child Sexual Exploitation Promise is our commitment and promise to young people in West Sussex who have any involvement in CSE.
We promise to:
- focus on you
- be honest and upfront
- be trustworthy
- respect your opinion.
Young people debate healthy relationships
In 2016 year we worked with The Towers Convent School and St Philip Howard Catholic School to get young people's views on healthy relationships, online safety and consent.
If you want to know more about their thoughts on the topics discussed then visit the Your Space West Sussex blog to watch the videos and find out how your school can get involved.