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CSE toolkit for parents and carers

Supporting and working alongside those who spend most time with children and young people is key to the safeguarding process. It is important to consider how, as professionals, we ensure that parents, carers and professionals feel appropriately supported in order to achieve the best outcomes for children and young people.

Number of pages:

19 pages

Date published:

Impact of CSE

woman talks to young girl while holding her hands

The impact of CSE 

Parents may be supporting a child who is suffering with the effects of trauma, and whilst trauma affects everyone differently it may include PTSD, depression, flashbacks, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, aggression, or a child exhibiting a range of other responses as a result of being abused. 

The child’s responses to the abuse may in turn be traumatic and worrying for parents who may not have an understanding of how the effects of trauma can appear. Enabling parents to understand how their child’s experience of trauma could manifest may help lessen the worry and anxiety that parents and carers feel, and could help them to understand how they can better support their child.

Supporting parents and carers affected by CSE

Parents may need support for:

  • Their relationship with their child, including understanding teenage development
  • Their own emotional needs, including dealing with the trauma of child sexual exploitation
  • Dealing with systems, including having someone who can advocate for them
  • Building their resilience, including accessing the professional and peer support they require.

The following list includes a range of practical tips and recommendations for professionals when working with parents and carers of children and young people affected by child sexual exploitation.

practical tips

  • Help parents to obtain a better understanding of CSE (different forms of CSE, the grooming process etc).
  • Help parents to understand how their children may respond to trauma.
  • Be child focused and have a strengths-based, outcomes-focused approach when working with the family.
  • Help parents to strengthen relationships with their children.
  • Consider the PACE Relational Safeguarding Model – be inclusive and involve parents and carers in the safeguarding process.
  • Actively listen to what parents, carers and family members say.
  • Be non-judgemental and respectful.
  • Ensure that an appropriate response/action is taken to concerns raised by parents.
  • Give parents and carers enough information to be able to protect their children.
  • Enable and empower parents (eg let them know what type of information to record about suspects and how to pass this on).
  • Explain processes to parents, what will happen in meetings, who will be present, what outcomes may ensue. Avoid jargon and explain acronyms.
  • Manage parents’ expectations in relation to police investigations (eg duration of investigations, length of time seized items are retained, sentencing).
  • Be mindful when organising the logistics of meetings – in terms of time scheduled (thinking of parents’ and carers’ need to balance work and contributions to the safeguarding process) transportation to and from meetings, who needs to be present in meetings etc.
  • Refer to the Centre of Expertise Infographic on providing support for parents and carers in relation to all of the identified areas and refer/signpost to appropriate types of support.
  • Consider whether there are any barriers to prevent parents accessing support.
  • Parents ideally should have an independent parent support worker.
  • Responses to parents should be person-centred and trauma informed.
  • Responses should be strengths-based.

Further CSE resources

For further information and a list of organisations and resources that can help support parents and carers, download the full CSE toolkit.

We also have resources to help teachers talk to young people about harmful sexual behaviour and exploitation: