Child sexual exploitation is a type of sexual abuse involving control of a child through force, threats or manipulation. It can happen to both boys and girls. Often, the first step is someone befriending a young person to gain their trust or have control over them. This is called grooming, and can lead to children being abused and raped.
Children can be groomed online or in the real world, by a stranger or by someone they know.
An abuser can be any age, even the same age as the child. It will often involve an abuser providing something to a child such as food, drugs, alcohol, gifts, or even simply affection, and victims are often tricked into thinking their abuser is a friend or even a ‘boyfriend’.
Once they have the child’s trust or control over them, an abuser will then move on to physically or sexually abusing a child. They may steer conversations towards sexual experiences, asking the child to send sexual photos or videos of themselves which they might use to blackmail the child. They might threaten the child saying they will hurt their family or friends if they tell anyone.