Child sexual abuse

The NSPCC estimates that 1 in 20 children in the UK are sexually abused, and 1 in 3 who are abused by adults do not tell anyone. Sexual abuse can cause serious physical and emotional harm both in the short term and long term.

We are determined to make sure that children are protected from abuse and where they have been abused there are proper services and support in place to help the child recover.  If you a worried that a child may be being abused click here.

We aim to ensure that children are protected from abuse through the law, effective policies and practice and high quality services.

Our priorities

  • Child sexual abuse within the family environment

We launched a national Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in the Family Environment in July 2014. It is looking at child sexual abuse which is perpetrated or facilitated by a family member, or which otherwise takes place within a family context or environment, whether or not by a family member. It follows on from our two year groundbreaking Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in Gangs and Groups.

  • Recognition and Telling

We want to see better training for adults working with children in identifying the signs of abuse and neglect, so that children do not fall through the net. Adults need to understand the behaviour of children who are being abused or neglected. We developed the See Me, Hear Me framework which identifies the essential things that need to be in place to ensure effective local responses to child sexual exploitation. The pilot is being run by the University of Sussex.

  • PSHE

Children and young people told us during our Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Gangs and Groups that they wanted effective PSHE (personal, social and health education). We believe it needs to be a statutory part of the curriculum so it can be taught in all maintained schools by properly trained professionals. Age appropriate relationships and sex education should form a key part of this, as should learning about physical, mental and emotional health.

Our previous work

In 2013 we concluded a ground-breaking and highly influential two year national Inquiry into child sexual exploitation in gangs and groups (CSEGG). Our work is continuing to result in more effective identification of children who have been or who are at risk of sexual exploitation and better services for those who have been.

Ten of the 11 initial Inquiry recommendations have already been implemented and numerous changes have been made by the police and professionals to improve responses to child sexual exploitation.

Here are just some of the impacts our CSEGG Inquiry has had:

  • Scale of sexual exploitation in groups and gangs

Our unique statutory powers enabled us to collect evidence to provide the most accurate information to date on the numbers of children and young people affected by and at risk of sexual exploitation.

  • Understanding the risk factors

The data we collected enabled us to publish evidence on the risk factors associated with child sexual exploitation.

  • Awareness raising

Our work resulted in hugely increased awareness of child sexual exploitation across local government, the police and the health service and wide scale development of local multi-agency plans to address it.

"It's so normalised that a lot of young people are like 'why bother reporting it?'" Young person

  • Child protection guidelines

The Crown Prosecution Service developmed new guidelines on protecting vulnerable witnesses which make clear children are not responsible for their abuse.

  • Government priorities

The Government placed a high priority on addressing child sexual exploitation.

  • The police

A number of police services are proactively looking for victims of sexual exploitation using the approach developed through our Inquiry’s findings.


Our work on child sexual exploitation has particular focus and relevance to Article 34.

Find out more about the UNCRC.

Learn more about our work on child sexual abuse...

Below are some questions about child sexual abuse. You can find more questions and information on our Get Advice pages.

Questions about Child sexual abuse

What is sexual abuse?

Sexual abuse is when a child or young person is persuaded or forced into taking part in sexual activity with an adult or another young person.

What will happen if I tell someone?

If you tell a teacher, a doctor or the police, they will tell a social worker about it.  A social worker’s job is to keep you safe from harm.  The social worker will want to speak with you about wh

Will I be believed if I tell someone?

Sometimes, the person who has abused you will say that nobody will believe you, or that telling someone will make it worse.  This is wrong.  Remember that sexual abuse is never your fault.  When yo

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