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Preventing and disrupting Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) in Sussex is a high priority for Sussex Police and partners.

'Child Sexual Exploitation is happening in Sussex' #StopCSE.

If you are a child (legally, that means anyone 18 and under) and you are concerned that something is not right about your relationship, or that a someone you know is in a risky relationship, please give us a chance to help…

Please take time to read what's here and follow the links.

There are people who know how to help children in this situation.

They will believe you.

There is a way out.

What is Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)?

This is when a child is used by being tricked or forced into doing something sexual in return for something - like love, affection, money, drugs or alcohol. It happens in the real world and online.

It's a kind of abuse, although children do not see it that way, because they are groomed by the abusers.

'Grooming' is how an abuser makes you think it's your fault, when it isn't…

Grooming is how someone makes a child feel special at first and gradually gets them to do things they are ashamed of. The child wants to believe that it is a true relationship and that they are loved and in love. By the time they realise that there is something wrong, they are often too scared or ashamed to tell anyone. They feel trapped.

Grooming makes children feel it's their fault and too scared to tell anyone about it because they think they will be blamed or punished. Grooming can make the child feel like they are in a cycle of fear and shame where no-one will believe what is happening to them. But a child who is being exploited in this way is never to blame. It can happen to any child, anywhere, both boys and girls. Grooming can happen both in the real world and online.

This is what some of them say:

"I totally believed there was no one I could tell. He had convinced me he was the only person who really cared about me." Exploited child

"I just needed someone to ask why I had changed… I would have told them everything." Exploited child

"I felt so lonely, I had no one to talk to, and that's how I ended up with bad people, and bad things happened to me." Young victim, quoted by Children's Society'

"I am worried my parents will be ashamed of me, and I know I will get in trouble for talking to strangers online, I feel like I have let them down." Exploited child

If you can relate to any of those feelings…

Whether you just have a feeling that things are not right, or you are in despair and don't know where to turn… Reach out to someone you can trust, who will believe you and not judge you.

We know that telling someone about it feels like a risk. But the real risk is this - if you don't do anything, it won't stop, and it will get worse.

You could start with the Childline website - they have a forum where you can talk anonymously to children who have been through CSE. They also have a confidential advice line for children and young people.

In Sussex, you can get local CSE support from the What is Sexual Exploitation (WiSE) project.

And here's a video to help you work out if your relationship is real love.  Real Love Rocks



If you believe it might be happening to someone you know…

Children dealing with CSE often won't tell even their best friends. But grooming changes how someone acts - so you might be worried if someone you know:

  • Has become especially secretive; stopped seeing their usual friends; has really sharp, severe mood swings.
  • Has new relationships with older men and/or women.
  • Goes missing from home or stays out all night.
  • Gets calls and messages from outside their normal circle of friends.
  • Has new, expensive items that you know they couldn't afford, like mobile phones, iPods or jewellery - or lots of 'invisible' or 'virtual' gifts such as phone credit and online gaming credits.
  • Suddenly changes their taste in dress or music.
  • Looks tired or unwell and sleeps at unusual hours.
  • Has marks or scars on their body, which they try to hide.

For more information on CSE and staying safe.


Most of us are connected online via our laptops, mobile phones, tablets or PCs. The internet is a valuable way to find resources for entertaining, having fun, staying connected with friends and for learning. Unfortunately there is also a lot of illegal activity and abuse that takes place online as well, be it bullying, fraud or something else. In the same way you learn to stay safe when you leave your house, make sure you know how to stay safe online too.

  • Never give out personal information such as your address or phone number
  • Don't send pictures of yourself to anyone, especially indecent pictures
  • Don't open emails or attachments form people you don't know
  • Never arrange to meet someone in person you have met online.
  • If you see, read or experience something online that worries you - tell someone 

Sending nude selfies

Sending nude selfies (also known as nudes, dirties, pic for pic, sexting, fanpics) is sending and receiving rude messages or videos of; naked pictures, underwear shots or any sexual texts, images or videos. These images can be sent from a boyfriend or girlfriend, friend or someone you have met online.

Sending nude selfies can happen because:

  • You want to fit in with friends and think that is what is expected of you.
  • You are worried as being seen as 'shy' or 'frigid'
  • You feel pressured into this activity
  • You have been harassed, threatened, or blackmailed into sending pictures.
  • You think it's ok because you're in love with the person and trust them.


  • There is no turning back once you press send and you cannot then control who sees the image.
  • Even if you use apps where images are only displayed for a few seconds, the recipient can take a screen shot.

Zipit app

Zipit is Childline's first ever app, available for Android and Apple smartphones. It gives advice on what to do if someone is trying to get you to send naked images of yourself or if you need to keep a flirty situation in control. If anything like this gets out of control or worries you when interacting online the best thing is to tell someone you trust as soon as you can.

There is support for you.



How Do I Know if Someone's Grooming Me?


It can be difficult, but there are ten main warning signs to look out for.

If someone is. . . . .


1. Not close to your own age 


2. Travelling far (and encouraging you to do the same) 


3. Telling lies and keeping secrets (and encouraging you to do the same)



4. Doing inappropriate stuff


Covering for you if you bunk off school
Arranging to meet you when they've not known you for long
Acting like they've known you for ages when they haven't  

5. Doing illegal stuff


Taking you to pub and clubs
Giving you drugs or alcohol
Encouraging you to break the law
Covering for you if you break the law

6. Doing sexual stuff


Inappropriately talking to you about sex
Asking personal questions about sex
Showing you sexual stuff like sexual images and videos

7. Being overly friendly 


Buying, loaning or giving you stuff
Doing you favours
Being supportive
Being overly friendly when they've not known you for long
Doing stuff and activities together

8. Doing stuff involving nudity


Clothes shopping
Swimming and sporting activities
Going to the gym
Playing dares and strip games

9. Getting you alone



10. Controlling you


Being bossy and controlling
Being possessive and always contacting you
Pressuring you
Making you feel guilty or bad
Making you feel that you owe them
Isolating you from friends and family