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We use a lot of acronyms in education however these are also becoming very widely recognised:

  • CCE stands for Child Criminal Exploitation
  • CSE stands for Child Sexual Exploitation

Child Criminal Exploitation

Child criminal exploitation (CCE) is a growing issue where children and young people are targeted by criminals and gangs to get them to engage in criminal activity, such as stealing or carrying drugs or weapons. The child or young person might be abused or put into dangerous positions.

The child or young person might be abused or put into dangerous positions. This is sometimes known as county lines.

County lines is the term for urban gangs who supply drugs to suburban areas, market and coastal towns around the UK using dedicated mobile phone lines or “deal lines”. It involves child criminal exploitation (CCE) as gangs use children and vulnerable people to move drugs and money. Gangs establish a base in the market location, typically by taking over the homes of local vulnerable adults by force or coercion in a practice referred to as ‘cuckooing’.

The Children’s Commissioner estimates that there are at least 46,000 children in England who are involved in gang activity. These children are often brought into exploitation through the process of threatening, tricking, or grooming.

Grooming involves building a relationship, trust, and emotional connection with the child or young person so that they can be taken advantage of and exploited. The forms of relationship a groomer can build includes romantic relationships, mentorships, and relationships can be built via social media, messaging apps, on games and apps, or in person. A groomer will often give the child or young person a lot of attention, gifts, and take them on trips/outings or holidays.

Children and young people who have been exploited should always be treated as victims rather than suspects.

Effects of CCE

Just like any other form of abuse and exploitation, county lines and child criminal exploitation can:

  • Affect any child or young person under the age of 18 years;
  • Still be exploitation even if the activity appears consensual or the child believes that they are a willing participant;
  • Involve force and/or enticement-based methods of compliance, which may be accompanied by violence or threats of violence;
  • Be perpetrated by any individual or a group /gang, regardless of age or gender
  • Like all forms of abuse or exploitation it is typified by some form of power imbalance in favour of those are perpetrating the exploitation. Whilst age may be the most obvious power imbalance, a power imbalance can also result from other factors, such as; gender, cognitive ability, physical, strength, status, and access to economic or other resources

Useful websites and information regarding Child Criminal Exploitation can be found here:

CSE & CCE tips for parents

Drug Crime Information

Child Sexual Exploitation

Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a type of sexual abuse. When a child or young person is exploited they’re given things, like gifts, drugs, money, status and affection, in exchange for performing sexual activities. Children and young people are often tricked into believing they’re in a loving and consensual relationship. This is called grooming. They may trust their abuser and not understand that they’re being abused.

Children and young people can be trafficked into or within the UK to be sexually exploited. They’re moved around the country and abused by being forced to take part in sexual activities, often with more than one person. Young people in gangs can also be sexually exploited.

Sometimes abusers use violence and intimidation to frighten or force a child or young person, making them feel as if they’ve no choice. They may lend them large sums of money they know can’t be repaid or use financial abuse to control them.

Anybody can be a perpetrator of CSE, no matter their age, gender or race. The relationship could be framed as friendship, someone to look up to or romantic. Children and young people who are exploited may also be used to ‘find’ or coerce others to join groups.

The NSPCC has a really detailed area on its website regarding CSE – with advice for parents and guidance.

It can be found here:

Child Sexual Exploitation

Additional information can be found here:

Spot the Signs