Gang culture

Sexual Exploitation

Safeguarding children and young people from sexual exploitation

Children and young people may find it very hard to understand or accept that they are being abused through sexual exploitation, and this increases their risk of being exposed to violent assault and life threatening events by those who abuse them.


Some possible signs that a child or young person is being sexually exploited include:

  • Noticeable changes in behaviour - becoming secretive, defensive or aggressive when asked about their personal life.
  • Wearing inappropriate clothing that is too adult or revealing for their age.
  • Frequently staying out late or overnight with no explanation as to where they have been.
  • Going places that you know they cannot afford.
  • Suddenly acquiring expensive gifts such as mobile phones, jewellery - even drugs - and not being able to explain how they came by them.
  • Repeated truanting.
  • Getting into trouble with the police.
  • Bruises, marks on the body, sexually-transmitted diseases, pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse or self-harm.
  • Repeated phone calls, letters, emails from adults outside family social circle.
  • Strangers hanging about outside your home.
  • Young people getting into cars with adults that are unknown to them.
  • Associating with other young people known to be victims of sexual exploitation. 
  • Friends at school express concern for them.
  • Stay away from certain people
    • they might avoid being alone with people, such as family members or friends.
    • they could seem frightened of a person or reluctant to socialise with them.
  • Show sexual behaviour that's inappropriate for their age
    • a child might become sexually active at a young age
    • they might be promiscuous
    • they could use sexual language or know information that you wouldn't expect them to.


Safeguarding children and young people from sexual exploitation.

Risk factors can include:

  • Sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Being bullied and/or vulnerable to bullying.

More from the web

Safeguarding children and young people from sexual exploitation.

  • The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP): works across the UK tackling child sex abuse and providing advice for parents, young people and professionals.
  • ECPAT UK: children's rights organisation campaigning against the commercial sexual exploitation of children in the UK.
  • Barnado's: working to help children in poverty, young carers and families looking to foster or adopt.