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Hertfordshire County Council


Child Sexual Exploitation in Hertfordshire

What is child sexual exploitation?

  • Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a type of sexual abuse. Young people may be given gifts like alcohol, cigarettes, accommodation or drugs in return for sexual activity.
  • CSE offenders may have power over a young person by age, gender, intellect, strength or money.
  • Young people may be groomed online on social media, or invited to parties and given drugs and alcohol in return for sex. Victims may be tricked into thinking they are in a loving relationship.

The signs of child sexual exploitation

  • Going missing for periods of time or regularly coming home late. Regularly missing school.
  • Appearing with unexplained gifts or new possessions and having older boyfriends or girlfriends.
  • Mood swings or changes in emotional wellbeing. Displaying inappropriate sexualised behaviour.

More information on the signs of CSE

Advice for young people

  • Trust yourself to know when something is wrong. If someone makes you feel unsafe, pressured, trapped or frightened follow your instincts 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've only talked to online unless you have discussed this first with a parent or carer.
  • Don't be tricked into doing things that are unsafe, even if it seems like fun. What might look exciting at first could be more harmful than you realise.

Read more about how to keep safe

Information for parents and carers

  • As a parent or carer, you could play an important role in protecting your children from CSE.
  • It is important to talk to your children about the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships.
  • Make sure you are aware of changes in behaviour including any physical signs of abuse or the possession of new, unexplained gifts.


Information for professionals

  • Professionals working with young people have an important role to play in protecting children from CSE.
  • Be aware of the procedure to follow in your workplace if you have concerns about a young person.
  • Make sure you are aware of the signs of child sexual exploitation.


If you feel a child is being abused

  • Call the Police: 101 (non emergency) or 999 (for emergency use only)
  • Children's Services (including out of hours): 0300 123 4043
  • Family Lives offer a 24/7 free phone number: 0808 800 2222. Gingerbread can offer advice to lone parents on free phone 0800 802 0925 between 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday.

More information on what to do

If you think you've been sexually exploited

  • Call the Police: 101 (non emergency) or 999 (for emergency use only), or Children's Services: 0300 123 4043
  • Call Crimestoppers anonymously 24/7 on: 0800 555 11.
  • ChildLine is a free, confidential helpline for all young people: 0800 1111. You can ring the NSPCC helpline on: 0808 800 5000.

CSE Advice for Children and Young People

Other help

  • Youth Connexions Hertfordshire offers a group work programme that is delivered in both school and community settings to enable young people to recognise and develop healthy relationships and thereby be less vulnerable to exploitation.

More information on the programme