Child sexual exploitation

Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a form of child sexual abuse in which a person(s) of any age takes advantage of a power imbalance to force or entice a child into engaging in sexual activity in return for something received by the child and/or those perpetrating or facilitating the abuse.

This form of abuse is complex and often hidden, and we are taking action to ensure that:

  • children and young people at risk of, and victims of, sexual abuse are identified, supported and offered high-quality, timely support
  • perpetrators are stopped and brought to justice

National Action Plan on Child Sexual Exploitation

In 2014 we published Scotland's first national action plan to prevent child sexual exploitation that set out actions to be taken across government, statutory and the third sector to strengthen Scotland's response to this type of child abuse. In March 2016 we published an update to the action plan.

We have made progress against many of the actions set out, as highlighted in the following progress reports:

Some of the actions taken to date are outlined below.

National Child Sexual Exploitation Group

The multi-agency National Child Sexual Exploitation Group was established to oversee the implementation of actions within the action plan.

Guidance for practitioners

In 2016 we published Child sexual exploitation: definition and practitioner briefing paper.

In 2017 we published Child sexual exploitation: a guide for health practitioners.

Raising awareness of child sexual exploitation

We set up a national awareness-raising campaign for parents, carers and young people in partnership with organisations including Barnardo's Scotland, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) Scotland, WithScotland, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation (PACE) and members of the Public Awareness Advisory Group (PAAG) of Child Protection Committees Scotland.

Read about it on the CSE the signs website.

We also collaborated with YoungScot on a social media Snapchat campaign.

Ongoing actions

We are currently working to:

  • improve our understanding of the scale and nature of child sexual exploitation in Scotland through more consistent data collection
  • develop indicators with which to monitor progress

We know that child sexual exploitation can (but not always) have a link with other criminal activity including child trafficking, distribution of images of children, online grooming, domestic violence and abuse. This is reflected in the work being done in these areas.