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Prevent Child Sexual Exploitation


by National Center For Missing & Exploited Children

We teach children to tell if they are hurt, but sometimes they cannot.  Children who have been sexually exploited may be too afraid or ashamed to tell.  They may think no one will believe them. Exploiters use this to their advantage.  They know concerned adults often wait for a child to say something before taking action.  But we cannot wait.  Our children need us to be proactive.

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children is working with families to help them actively protect children from sexual exploitation.  Families may help reduce the incidence of child sexual exploitation by learning how to recognize and respond to signs of child sexual abuse.  Use the following action steps to empower your family and combat child sexual exploitation.

Protect and Monitor

  • Screen children’s caregivers and check their references.  Ask children, “Do you feel comfortable with [caregiver]?  Why or why not?”
  • Get involved in children’s activities.  Ask organizations, “What policies do you have in place to protect children from sexual exploitation?”  Examples should include policies about screening, travel, and online communications between children and staff.
  • Know what children are doing and who they are doing it with, both off- and online.
  • Use role-playing exercises to practice basic safety skills with children – for example, kicking, screaming and yelling if someone grabs them or touches them in a way that makes them uncomfortable.
  • Listen to children.  Pay attention if they tell you they do not want to be with someone or go somewhere.
  • Teach children they have the right to say “NO” to anyone or anything that makes them feel scared, uncomfortable or confused and how to get out of those situations as quickly as possible.
  • Be sensitive to any changes in children’s behaviors or attitudes such as sudden mood swings or age-inappropriate knowledge about sexual situations and contact.
  • Provide a safe environment in which children are encouraged to frequently share their thoughts and feelings.

Support Child Victims

  • Reassure children it is OK to tell you anything and you are there to help.
  • Remain calm and nonjudgmental if children disclose abuse or any other problems they may be having.
  • Make sure children know that being exploited is never their fault.

If you suspect a child is being sexually exploited, contact law enforcement immediately.

You may also make a report to NCMEC’s CyberTipline at or by calling 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).


  1. Thank you for this reminder. Children are very vulnerable and are often unable to express themselves in ways we would understand. Paying close attention is very important.

    1. Nena, you gave me just what I needed with your comment on Child Abuse Incorporated, and I owe you a BIG THANK YOU!!!!
      AND, you can see the rest of your THANK YOU on my blog very shortly at:
      You are very welcome Nena, but the people that deserve the BIG Thank You is NCMEC.

      1. Robert, it is so refreshing to see a heart so full of praise for others:) It is sincerely food for the soul and I thank YOU for that! God bless you!

      2. Nena, but it was you that deserved the praise. Few people have the values these days to realize that a lie is still a lie no matter if of omission or commission.
        You are very welcome Nena,

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