Critical and Radical Social Work
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The significance of love in relation to looked-after children and child sexual exploitation

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  • 1 The University of Salford, , UK
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Drawing on the knowledge that looked-after children are disproportionately involved in child sexual exploitation, this critical systematic literature review considers the significance of ‘love’, using bell hooks’ ‘love ethic’. This literature review applies a systematic approach to retrieving literature and includes ten peer-reviewed journal articles containing primary research from individuals with lived experience of being a looked-after child and child sexual exploitation, or professionals within the field. Thematic analysis is used to identify the themes of risk, agency and relational practice. Together, these explore how dominant discourses of neoliberalism, patriarchy and capitalism shape modern social work, increase the risk of child sexual exploitation for looked-after children and maintain conditions needed for child sexual exploitation to function. bell hooks’ conceptualisation of the ‘love ethic’ is discussed as a possible framework in meeting the unmet emotional and economic needs of looked-after children through using ‘love as action’. ‘Love’, critical thinking and critical reflection are then recommended for social work.

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  • 1 The University of Salford, , UK

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