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Spotting the Signs: a national toolkit to help identify young people at risk of child sexual exploitation
  1. Jane Ashby1,
  2. Karen Rogstad2,
  3. Sophie Forsyth3,
  4. Dawn Wilkinson4
  1. 1Archway Centre for Sexual Health, Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  2. 2Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust, Undergraduate Support Dean, University of Sheffield, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield, UK
  3. 3Great Western hospitals NHS Foundation trust, Swindon, UK
  4. 4Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, Jefferiss Wing Centre for Sexual Health, St Mary's Hospital, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jane Ashby, Archway Centre for Sexual Health, Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, Islington, London N19 5SE, UK; Jane.ashby2{at}

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It has been widely reported in research and inquiries that child sexual exploitation (CSE) is both under-reported and unrecognised by statutory and voluntary sector organisations.1–3 A report by the Office of the Children's Commissioner found that at least 16 500 children were identified as being at risk of CSE each year by gangs and groups.1 Between 5% and 17% of children under 16 (between 650 000 and 2 million children) experience sexual abuse, and more than one in three do not tell anyone during childhood.2

CSE has been defined by the National Working Group for Sexually Exploited Children and Young People3 as the involvement of those aged <18 in exploitative situations, contexts and relationships where the young people (or a third person) receive something (eg, affection, gifts) as a result of them and/or others engaging in sexual activities. It is an abuse of power by those exploiting by virtue of their age, gender, intellect, and physical strength and/or economic or …

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  • Collaborators JA, KR, SF and DW, on behalf of British Association for Sexual Health and HIV Adolescent Special Interest Group.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.