Information about Sexual Exploitation and Grooming

What is sexual exploitation?

Sexual exploitation is when someone uses something you need or want to get you involved in sexual stuff.

This can happen:

  • At parties
  • At a friends’ house
  • On your street
  • In your home
  • Anywhere

Something you need or want could be:

  • Food
  • A place to stay
  • Drugs
  • Alcohol
  • Money
  • Friends
  • Something else

Below are eight different examples of sexual exploitation.

These are very basic examples and others can be a lot more complicated.

  • Girls AND boys can be sexually exploited
  • Boys who are strong and tough can be sexually exploited
  • Sexual exploitation can happen to anyone regardless of their gender, race, ethnicity, appearance, age or sexual orientation

Some boys and young men are:

  • Forced into doing sexual stuff
  • Pressured and persuaded into doing sexual stuff
  • Tricked into doing sexual stuff
  • Aware of what’s happening to them
  • Not aware at all that they are being sexually exploited

Grooming is when someone convinces you or your family/carers that they are a safe and trustworthy person so they can sexually exploit you.

They sometimes do this by becoming your friend, boyfriend or girlfriend or becoming friends with your parents/carers.

Groomers can:

  • Be younger than you
  • Seem like your friends
  • Offer you things you need or want
  • Ask you to lie and keep secrets
  • Groom you online or in real life

Below are four examples of grooming.

Below are the warning signs that someone could be grooming you.

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 - including:

  • 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 - including:

  • 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 - including:

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

7. Being overly friendly - including:

    • 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 - including:

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

    9. Getting you alone

    10. Controlling you - including:

    • 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

    • A person can be groomed online and in real life
    • Girls AND boys can be groomed
    • It can take anything from one hour to six months for someone to be groomed
    • People can groom on their own and also in groups
    • People who groom can sometimes start by getting young people to commit crime. This can later turn into grooming for sexual exploitation

    People who groom can be any gender, colour, ethnicity, appearance, age or sexual orientation. You can’t tell that someone wants to groom you from what they look like.

    How at risk are you of being groomed and sexually exploited?

    Take our short quiz to find out. Click here.


    1. Don’t add people online you don’t know – even if your friends know them
    2. Keep your online profile private
    3. Think about what images and information you’re sending, sharing and making available
    4. Turn off the settings that show people where you are

    In the Real World

    5. Have friends and boyfriend or girlfriend who are close to your own age
    6. Always let a parent/carer know where you are
    7. Don’t believe that you get something for nothing
    8. Think about what information you’re sharing and making available
    9. Have your mobile phone with you at all times and keep it charged and topped up
    10. Don't accept a drink from someone you don't know
    11. Don't leave your drink alone
    12. If you are meeting someone you don’t really know and/or have never met, meet them in a public place and take a safe person with you

    You can phone 100 from a payphone and get the operator to connect you to your parents and carers by asking for a ‘reversed charge call’, Give the operator the phone number of your parents or carers and they will put you through. As you have asked for a reversed charged call this means your parents/carers will pay for the call.

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