We're pleased to be running a campaign in Surrey to tackle child sexual exploitation (CSE) in partnership with Surrey Police and Surrey Crimestoppers. The campaign will raise awareness of some of the warning signs of CSE and encourage people who suspect abuse to contact the police or children's services. We have produced posters which will be seen in bus stops and train stations across the county and sent to schools and youth centres. A play called 'Chelsea's Choice' will be shown in schools, which raises awareness of CSE to pupils in Years 8 and 9. Plus we've launched a TV advert, to be shown in households with Sky TV and in cinemas, which highlights our determination to pursue offenders and discourages those who may commit crime.
- Surrey Children's Services: 0300 470 9100
- Surrey Police: 101 or 999 in an emergency
- Crimestoppers anonymously: 0800 555 111
- Childline: 0800 1111
What is CSE?
Child sexual exploitation, or CSE as it is known, is the sexual abuse of a child or young person aged under 18 by an adult who involves them in inappropriate sexual activities either with themselves or another person. The activity often takes place in exchange for money, alcohol, drugs, food, accommodation or presents such as clothing or mobile phones, and victims can be targeted in person or online.
Child sexual exploitation can occur through the use of technology without the child's immediate recognition. For example being persuaded to post images on the internet or using mobile phones.
A common feature of CSE is that the child or young person does not recognise the coercive nature of the relationship and does not see themselves as a victim of exploitation. Violence, coercion and intimidation are common. Victims are often targeted because they are already vulnerable in some other way.
Perpetrators of sexual exploitation are found in all parts of the country and are not restricted to particular ethnic groups. More importantly, this form of abuse is happening in Surrey.
Signs to look out for
- Not attending school, regularly going missing, coming home late or staying out overnight with no explanation.
- Change in appearance or overt sexualised dress.
- Disengaging from family, friends and other support networks including key workers.
- Becoming secretive.
- Unexplained money or gifts, including mobile phones.
- Being seen in different cars, perhaps with different older people.
- Increased contact with health care.
- Displaying inappropriate sexualised behaviour.
- Having a much older boyfriend / girlfriend.
- Changing peer groups.
- Suffering from sexually transmitted diseases.
- Multiple pregnancies, terminations.
- Drug or alcohol misuse.
- Offending behaviour.
There may be many reasons for changes in behaviour, but if you notice a combination of worrying signs it may be time to seek help or advice. Please take a look at the CSE warning signs (PDF) poster for more information.
Top tips for young people to keep safe
- Trust yourself to know when something is wrong. If someone makes you feel unsafe, pressured, trapped or frightened, follow your instincts and get help straight away.
- Don't trust people you don't know, even if they seem friendly – and make sure you know who you are talking to online. Never give away personal details or agree to meet someone who you have only talked to online.
- Don't be tricked into doing things that are unsafe, even if they seem like fun. What might look exciting at first could be more harmful than you realise.