There are a number of different ways that adults can and do exploit children and young people.  Exploitation involves using someone for personal gain.  It is abusive and can hurt children and young people physically, psychologically, and emotionally.

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)

Child sexual exploitation or CSE, is a type of child abuse.  It happens when a child or young person is encouraged or forced to take part in sexual activity in exchange for something such as presents, money, or simply attention.

CSE can happen to any child or young person, boy or girl, and it may well seem like a normal friendship or relationship to begin with.  No matter who is affected by CSE it is never, ever their fault – even if they have agreed to some kind of sexual activity because they felt they ‘should’, had no other choice or didn’t fully understand consent.

The children and young people’s charity Barnardo’s have produced a leaflet which helps young people be aware, stay alert and keep safe from CSE.


Another form of exploitation is human trafficking, sometimes called modern slavery.  Children and young people are trafficked from abroad and within the UK, then exploited, forced to work or sold.  Children are trafficked for sex, benefit fraud, forced marriage, forced labour on farms, in factories and even in people’s homes.  They can be forced into criminal activities such as begging, transporting drugs, and street theft.  You can read real life stories of children who have been trafficked on the NSPCC website.

There are organisations that specifically support children and young people that have been a victim of trafficking – including ECPAT UK.  You can contact the ECPAT Youth Programme via 020 7607 2136 or e-mail youth@ecpat.org.uk .