IT’S NOT OK is a Child Exploitation awareness raising campaign being run by Cumbria Safeguarding Children’s Partnership in partnership with the NSPCC. The campaign will

  • raise awareness of this crime and how to spot the signs
  • help children identify when it is happening then and know how to get help
  • provide information to support parents and carers
  • support professionals to spot the signs and report it

Tackling Child Exploitation is everyone’s responsibility. We need young people, parents and professionals across Cumbria to read and share the information on this website.

What is Child Exploitation? 

Child Exploitation is a form of child abuse. It occurs where an individual or a group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into sexual/criminal activity (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or (b) for the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator. The victim may have been sexually/criminally exploited even if the activity appears consensual. Child exploitation does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur through the use of technology.

  • CSE is a form of child abuse
  • Typified by a form of power imbalance
  • Can affect anyone under 18
  • May occur without the child’s immediate knowledge
  • Can appear consensual
  • Can happen with or without physical contact
  • Can happen online
  • May involve force
  • Perpetrators can be individuals or groups
Remember, exploitation can happen to anyone no matter of gender, ethnicity or sexuality.

Spotting the signs 

It can be hard to sometimes tell the difference between normal behaviour and signs that a child is being exploited. Abusers can also be very clever in their manipulation; some young people won’t even be aware that it is happening to them. 

These are some of the signs that may indicate that children are being groomed for exploitation or actually being exploited. If you spot any of these signs you should get help.

  • Unhealthy or inappropriate sexual behaviour.
  • Being frightened of some people, places or situations.
  • Bring secretive.
  • Sharp changes in mood or character.
  • Going missing.
  • Having money or things they can't or won't explain.
  • Physical signs of abuse, like bruises or bleeding in their genital or anal area.
  • Alcohol or drug misuse.
  • Sexually transmitted infections.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Having an older boyfriend or girlfriend.
  • Staying out late or overnight.
  • Having a new group of friends.
  • Stopping going to school or college.
  • Hanging out with older people, other vulnerable people or in antisocial groups.
  • Involved in a gang
  • Involved in criminal activities like selling drugs or shoplifting.

How to get help

If you are a young person and are worried about yourself or someone else you can:

  • Speak to an adult you trust
  • Speak to Childline
  • Call 999 if you think someone is in immediate danger
You can get more information on exploitation at external link will open in a new window or you can call Childline on 0800 1111.  Childline are at the other end of the phone, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  

Remember exploitation is never your fault, even if you went along with things at first. Abusers are very clever in the way they manipulate young people.

If you are a parent/carer or member of the public who is worried about a child

  • If you're worried about a child, even if you're unsure, contact NSPCC professional counsellors for help, advice and support. Call free on 0808 800 5000. Email Visit external link will open in a new window.

If you are a professional who is concerned about a child

Follow your agency safeguarding procedures and report concerns about a child or young person needing protection should contact the Cumbria Safeguarding Hub via the single contact form or on 0333 240 1727.

What you can do to support the campaign

  • Follow us on social media and share our posts
  • Download and display our campaign materials – these are available in the resources section
  • Share content and link to this website.

Information for professionals

Resources for professionals


Football Competition

It's NOT OK to Turn Your Back on Child Exploitation 

Awareness Videos


Young People's Stories



More information for children and young people



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