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Child Exploitation: Sexual and Criminal

Information and resources to help support children and young people.


Child exploitation can take many forms. Whilst there are two dominant forms of exploitation Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) and Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE) it is important to recognise the following: 

  • The same children can experience multiple forms of harm with issues often overlapping with one another. 
  • Exploitation is a form of extra familiar harm (harm that occurs that outside of the the home), although children may also be experience vulnerability within the home too. 
  • Cultural competencies needs to be applied around identification of harm should be made when considering harm (stereotyping and over generalising that boys experience CCE whilst girls experience CSE). 
  • Whilst victims tend to be teenagers and adolescents, it is important that younger children can experience exploitation too. 
  • Children and young people who experience exploitation are at high risk of going missing or being subject to human trafficking. 

Both CSE and CCE are forms of abuse that occur where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance in power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child into taking part in sexual or criminal activity, in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or for the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator and/or through violence or the threat of violence. CSE and CCE can affect children of all genders and can include children who have been moved (commonly referred to as trafficking) for the purpose of exploitation.

Whilst both CSE and CCE can have similarities, children and young people may experience one form of harm exclusively. There are specialist services who can be commissioned to work with those who are impacted by either form of harm.  Please click on the links below to consider more specialist services. 

Typical signs of exploitation:

• Unexplained gifts, money or new possessions;

• associating with other children involved in exploitation;

• changes in emotional well-being;

• misuse of drugs and/or alcohol;

• missing episodes or regularly coming home later than expected; and

• regularly missing school or education or not taking part in education.


Safer Options

Please site the Keeping Bristol Safe Partnership's webpage on Safer Options, Contextual Safeguarding and Extrafamilial Harm to find out about the partnership’s vision and plan for improving safeguarding children in our communities.

Safer Options Team Bristol City Council – The co-ordinated whole system response to prevent serious youth violence and exploitation in Bristol.

Find out more about the Safer Options Team and contact them here.

Local Support

The majority of Bristol's education settings are signed up to receive Police Safeguarding Notifications - please visit this link for information. 

Avon and Somerset Police constabulary have a legal duty to safeguard children and young people from exploitation. If you are worried about someone being exploited, it's important to raise it with the police. Operation Topaz is the police team who proactively support potential victims and disrupt grooming behaviours.

You may also want to consider making a referral to Children's Social Care concurrently. 

National Resources