West Lothian Child Protection Committee



What is child sexual exploitation?

Sexual exploitation is a form of sexual abuse that affects thousands of young people every year in the UK. Boys and girls can be sexually exploited.

Many victims of exploitation have been groomed by an adult who will befriend them and make them feel special to gain their trust before sexually exploiting them. Through threats, bribes, violence or telling young people that they love them, the adult has power over the young person and gets them to do sexual things for their own or other people's benefit. The abusers are very manipulative and often the young person does not recognise that they are being abused. The rise of the internet, ownership of mobile phones and use of social networking sites have increased the risk of children being sexually exploited.

Grooming .... What is it?

'Grooming' is used to describe the process abusive adults use to trick young people in to believing that they are trustworthy so that they can exploit them. This can be online, on the phone or face to face.
Sometimes initial introduction might be through other young people who have been groomed themselves, or it might be their girlfriend, boyfriend, family member or family friend. Often they will target vulnerable children. There are usually four stages of grooming:

  • Targeting stage

  • Friendship forming

  • Loving relationship stage

  • Abusive relationship stage

Warning Signs

Young people:

  • Going missing for either short periods of time or days
  • Staying out late or parents/carers not knowing where they are
  • Being secretive about where and who they are going with
  • Distancing themselves from family and friends
  • Behaving differently, e.g. becoming withdrawn or aggressive
  • Changing in appearance, e.g. not caring for themselves or bathing constantly
  • Having things that parents havn't bought for them or given to them that are unexplained
  • Behaving in a sexualised way, touching people when they don't want it
  • Being picked up by people parents/carers don't know
  • A change in academic performance
  • Using more alcohol or drugs
  • Starting to miss school/college/training/work

In response to the growing awareness of CSE as a problem across all areas of Britain, West Lothian CPC developed local procedures and has embarked on a programme of awareness training with staff from local agencies. The CPC has developed an action plan to ensure agencies and the public are aware of CES and take responsibility for making West Lothian known as an area that will not tolerate the sexual exploitation of children and young people.


Related documentation

Information for Parents

Information for Hotel / B&B staff

Information for Taxi Drivers

Letter to businesses



Website by Social Policy Information Team