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Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)

What is Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)?

Sexual exploitation of children and young people under 18 involves situations where young people receive ‘something’ (e.g. food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, attention, gifts, money, mobile phone) for taking part in a sexual  activities.

CSE can happen through the use of technology, for example when young people are persuaded to post sexual images of themselves on the Internet or through mobiles. In all cases, those doing the exploitation have power over the young person because they are older, physically stronger, and manipulative.

Violence, coercion and intimidation are common in child exploitation, and those doing the exploiting often target vulnerable young people. These young people may be vulnerable because of poor relationships at home, money worries, and /or low self-esteem and confidence.

Children or young people may be tricked into believing they're in a loving relationship. They might be invited to parties and given drugs and alcohol, and left in risky situations that are difficult to get out of.

Does CSE affect you or someone you know?

Is someone asking you to do things you’re uncomfortable with? Are they threatening you or forcing you to do stuff that you don’t want to do? Or are you worried about someone else?

This article can help you to learn more about CSE, and find out where to go for support in Wirral if you think that you or someone you know may be affected.

How does CSE happen?

An adult may try to develop power over you using bribes and threats (e.g. ‘if you don’t do something for me then I will do or say something to get you in trouble’). They may also be violent, or even take the opposite approach of telling you that they love you, to try and make you feel pressured to do sexual things.

You might be feeling lonely or be struggling at a point in your life – either due to issues at home or worries that upset you. It could be that you or your family has problems with money. If this is the case – it is not your fault. You cannot consent to your own abuse, and you should be kept safe.

You may not be aware that you are being exploited, often because you might be given ‘something’ in return for being used for sexual activities.

What can happen?

CSE can take place in many forms: online, social media, mobile phones, and face-to-face.

If someone is exploiting you (or trying to), they might:

  • threaten to end the relationship if you don’t have sex
  • ask you to (or make you) have sex with other people
  • expect sex in return for food or a place to stay
  • share drugs or alcohol with you in return for sexual acts
  • threaten to stop being friends if you don’t perform sexual ‘dares’
  • give you gifts or money in return for sexual acts
  • ask you to take sexual photos of yourself and share them online or by text
  • threaten to humiliate or share sexual images of you if you don’t carry out more sexual acts
  • be violent towards you
  • threaten to harm your family/loved ones

How to get help

If you – or someone you know – is in immediate danger, please call the police on 999.

Please remember that your welfare is the most important thing. Share any concerns you have, no matter how small, with someone you can trust e.g. a teacher, family member or youth worker.

If you are feeling unsafe, you can call Wirral Council’s Central Advice and Duty Team on 0151 606 2008 (open 9.00am-5.00pm Monday to Friday).

Outside of these hours please phone the Emergency Duty Team on 0151 677 6557.

Other local support agencies

Catch 22

Local agency Catch 22 works to prevent and stop Child Sexual Exploitation.

Contact the team:

Vikki McKenna – Coordinator: 0151 604 3617

Anna Ingram, Joel Williams, Laura Jones – Missing From Home and Child Sexual Exploitation Caseworkers: 0151 604 3618

Catch 22’s Missing from home helpline is manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week:  0808 168 9698

You can also find local advice and support at Response, based in Birkenhead.

Useful websites

Listen to My Story


Free, confidential 24-hour helpline that offers support for any kind of problem.

Tel: 0800 11 11


Child protection helpline gives information, advice and counselling to anyone worried about a child.

Tel: 0808 800 5000

Please remember...

You have the right to be safe and protected from harm – whatever your situation.


Information provided with support from NHS England and