THE number of children and young people in Wales who have contacted Childline about child sexual exploitation (CSE) has risen by more than a quarter in the past year, new figures reveal.

The Childline Annual Review 2018/19 shows 167 Welsh youngsters called the service last year – up from 133 the year before – with concerns about CSE.

And this number could be higher still, as 877 callers did not state their country of origin when contacting the NSPCC-supported service.


The yearly report also revealed there were 394 contacts to Childline from Wales on the issue of child sexual abuse (CSA)1.

Across the UK, the 12 Childline bases – including Welsh centres in Cardiff and Prestatyn – delivered 4,500 counselling sessions to children and young people who were coerced or forced into sexual activity – an increase of 16 per cent on 2017/18.

CSE was a factor in more than half of UK-wide counselling sessions (8,841) about sexual abuse.

In more than a third of counselling sessions young people disclosed they were targeted online - usually through social media or video games – often by their peers or people known to them.

Most commonly children received help from Childline because they were forced to perform or watch sexual acts or had been persuaded into sending naked images or videos of themselves - some were threatened with the images being told they would be shared with friends and family.

In Wales, the Welsh Government has committed to overhauling education about healthy relationships with the inclusion of compulsory Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) as part of the curriculum from 2022.

The Childline Annual Review also shows the biggest jump – up a quarter - in the amount of 16-18 year olds receiving counselling for sexual exploitation.

Des Mannion, the head of NSPCC Cymru/Wales, said: “Child sexual exploitation is all-too-often a hidden crime.


“Sadly, we are hearing from young people every day who are being manipulated or blackmailed into carrying out sexual acts.

“For many this impacts on their mental health and leaves them feeling isolated from the people closest to them. Some turn to self-harm, alcohol or substance misuse as ways of coping with their experiences.

“Everyone must be prepared to confront this problem, from government right through to schools, parents, professionals, and us at Childline.

“The Welsh Government will be teaching all children about healthy relationships from 2022 which aims to provide young people with the information they need to identify what is an unhealthy relationship.

“It is vital that Welsh Government now focus on training the specialist teachers that Wales needs to effectively deliver relationships and sexuality education.

“But we must not forget also that Childline needs more volunteers to make sure they can be there for every child who needs our help, at all times of day and night.”