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There are a number of myths about CSE. Remember, it can affect any young person regardless of background, culture, religion, age, race, or gender. 

Myth #1

It only happens in certain ethnic/cultural communities

Reality: Both perpetrators and victims are known to come from a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. CSE is not a crime restricted to British Pakistani Muslim males or White British girls, despite media coverage of high profile cases. The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (opens in new window) identified that ‘Research tells us that the majority of known perpetrators in the UK of this crime are lone white males’. 

Myth #2

It only happens to girls and young women

Reality: Boys and young men are also targeted as victims of CSE by perpetrators. However, they may be less likely to disclose offences or seek support, often due to stigma, prejudice or embarrassment or the fear that they will not be believed. 

Myth #3

Offenders are all men

Reality: There is evidence that women can be perpetrators of this crime too. They may use different grooming methods but are known to target both boys and girls. Read how Megan was groomed by Sian, a woman in her mid-20s.(opens in new window) 

Myth #4

This only happens in large towns and cities

Reality: Evidence shows that CSE can and does happen in all parts of our country. CSE is not restricted to urban areas such as large towns and cities but does in fact happen in rural areas such as villages and coastal areas. 

Myth #5

Children and young people can consent to their own exploitation

Reality: A child cannot consent to their own abuse. Firstly, the law sets down 16 as the age of consent to any form of sexual activity. Secondly, any child under-18 cannot consent to being trafficked for the purposes of exploitation. Thirdly, regardless of age a person’s ability to give consent may be affected by a range of other issues including the influence of drugs, threats of violence, grooming, a power imbalance between victim and perpetrators.

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