Sometimes, people might want to take advantage of you and ask you to do sexual things, and you might find yourself in dangerous situations without even realising it. This is called child sexual exploitation (CSE) and it’s not okay for this to happen to a young person. It is abuse and young people have the right to be safe from it.
Sometimes young people in exploitative situations and relationships receive gifts of money or affection for performing sexual activities or others performing sexual activities on them. At first, a young person may like, respect, or even think they are falling in love with the person exploiting them. This is because they are ‘groomed’ over time. This process involves making them feel ‘special’, so they become attached. But later, the behaviour of the abuser starts to change, often slowly. By this point, the young person is likely to feel trapped, isolated and scared, and they may find it difficult to acknowledge that they are no longer comfortable in the relationship.
Here are some of the messages from local young people who have been sexually exploited:
- Don’t hang around with people who you aren’t willing to take home
- Keep safe online: don’t share personal information or meet up with anyone you’ve met online
- Speak to teachers or someone you trust
- If you feel someone is not safe, tell someone – you are almost certainly right
- Look out for your friends – many young people who are being abused think they’re in a normal ‘loving’ relationship and will not ask for help.
A film produced by Leicestershire Police to warn children and parents of the dangers of online grooming:
If you’re worried about you or a friend, talk to someone you trust (like a teacher or a youth worker) or call the council on 01454 866000 or the Police on 101 to talk things through. If you’re in immediate danger, dial 999 straight away.
Schools employ a variety of people to look after your wellbeing. Some of the titles of these staff may vary in your school but you will be able to find out about them from a teacher. Most schools have a nurse who will either have a drop-in clinic or you can make an appointment to see them.
GP – you can make an appointment to visit your doctor or a nurse at the surgery to talk about any worries or concerns you have. Call your GP surgery to speak to the receptionist or go there in person. The receptionist will probably ask you who the appointment is for and why; this is to make sure that you see the right person at the right time. You don’t have to tell them why – you can just say it’s for something personal if you like.
If you think you’ll might have difficulty discussing your mental health with your GP, you can find advice about how to prepare How to Talk to Your GP About Mental Health
Off the Record – free mental health support for 11-18 year olds. 0808 808 9120, text 07896880011 www.otrbristol.org.uk
South Gloucestershire Talking Therapies – free support for people aged 16 and over. https://iapt-sglos.awp.nhs.uk/ 0117 378 4270.
ChildLine – free helpline for children and young people to talk about any problem 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 0800 1111 www.childline.org.uk
Samaritans – if something is troubling you call 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Mix: telephone and email support for under 25’s. Freephone 0808 808 4994 (1pm-11pm) Text 80849 www.themix.org.uk.
NSPCC is a leading national charity fighting to end child abuse in the UK. They help children who have been abused to rebuild their lives, protect those at risk, and find the best ways of preventing abuse from ever happening. https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/child-abuse-and-neglect/child-sexual-exploitation/
Get self-help – free online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) resources, www.getselfhelp.co.uk.
Reading Well: Shelf Help – a list of recommended books to help young people deal with a range of issues, available in all libraries.