The issue of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) is firmly in the public spotlight internationally and in the UK, but just how well is it understood?
To date, many CSE-related services have been developed in reaction to high profile cases rather than being designed more strategically. This much-needed book breaks new ground by considering how psychosocial, feminist and geo-environmental theories, amongst others, can improve practice understanding and interventions.
Edited by one of the leading scholars in the field, this is an essential text for students and those planning strategic interventions and practice activities in social, youth and therapeutic work with young people, as it supports understanding of how CSE arises and how to challenge the nature of the abuse.
This chapter connects theory to how child sexual exploitation (CSE) interventions can be approached. To explore this connection, the chapter offers some personal reflections that highlight the ways in which theory can provide meaning. It shows how one can explore why we, and/or our service employer connects with theory — we can bring it ‘home’. Theory thus becomes something that is important to talk about, even if its meaning is unclear or uncertain. In fact, the chapter asserts that the more uncertainty there is, the better, as it encourages those working with CSE cases to explore their motivations and how they justify their work.
This chapter returns the discussion to the relationship between theory and practice in child sexual exploitation (CSE) intervention. It also tracks the broader implications of such an approach in related fields. While the sexual exploitation of children is the focus of this book, the ideas within it can be used to explore a range of forms of exploitation and abuse of children. Furthermore, these perspectives and political and economic concerns are explored in the book with sexually exploited children in mind, they are transferable to other exploitative contexts facing a range of children and young people. In addition, the chapter discusses some further avenues for exploration and implementation, including options for the setting up or reform of a service for children and young people.
This chapter makes two key points about service delivery for sexually exploited children and young people. It argues that while there have been some helpful developments in policy and practice that raise the profile of sexually exploited children and young people’s needs, these have mainly been focused on child-protection agendas. The chapter also argues that, as a consequence of the focus on child protection, sexually exploited children and young people are seen first and foremost as victims of abuse. It provides an analysis of sexual exploitation that does not reify the young person’s experiences of victimization, but which locates ‘the problem’ of sexual exploitation as a social-welfare problem.
“Growing up with risk” provides a critical analysis of ways in which risk assessment and management - now a pervasive element of contemporary policy and professional practice - are defined and applied in policy, theory and practice in relation to children and young people.
Drawing on conceptual frameworks from across the social sciences, the book examines contrasting perspectives on risk that occur in different policy domains and professional and lay discourses, discussing the dilemmas of response that arise from these sometimes contested viewpoints - from playground safety to risks associated with youthful substance use. The contributors address issues of gender, ethnicity and socio-economic status which impact on definitions and responses to risk, and consider related concepts, such as ‘risk-resilience’, care-control’ and ‘dependence-autonomy’.
Written in an accessible manner, each chapter provides a specific policy case study to illustrate the cross-cutting themes and issues that will make it a key text for researchers and students. It also offers policy makers and practitioners a valuable insight into the complexities of balancing responsibility for protecting the young with the benefits of risk taking and the need to allow young people to experiment.
This chapter argues for a conceptual shift in our understanding of child protection. Drawing on some of the key lessons from Munro’s (2011) review of child protection, it argues that our understanding of child protection must develop from one focused on protecting younger children from abuse in the home to one incorporating the protection of older children from abuse located and experienced outside the home.
The chapter uses child sexual exploitation (CSE) as an example to illustrate the complexities of extending the child protection framework to embrace the needs of older children, particularly adolescents. It develops Munro’s call for a systemic approach to understanding the difficulties faced by those working in child protection and her request for relationship-based thinking to inform the supervision of practitioners, helping them manage the anxieties that emerge when responding to difficult and emotive casework. It argues that future policy and practice to protect children from sexual exploitation should not only be modelled on reviews of recent cases where abusers have been prosecuted. Rather than using these reviews to blame individual practitioners for failing to recognise the exploitation of a child, it calls for a more nuanced understanding of the social context in which the practitioner is functioning. This is particularly relevant for practitioners understanding the social context in which a child’s capacity to consent to sexual activity may be abused.
I argue that relationship-based child protection interventions with older children could be enhanced through learning action partnerships (LAPs). Originally developed by staff working with the Oak Foundation developing sustainable interventions to prevent child abuse, LAPs offer a model of engaging with young people as partners, recognising their capacity either to engage or disengage from the support and protection offered by children’s services.
This chapter looks at the relationship between risk, resilience, and sexual exploitation as experienced by young people. It first defines sexual exploitation and then looks at the different types of risk factors that have been identified as making a young person vulnerable to exploitation. The chapter considers the risks that young people might face while being involved in a sexually exploitative relationship, and the interventions which might support vulnerable young people. It explores these in relation to the young person’s resilience: their capacity to manage different forms of risk. The chapter looks at the interplay between risk and resilience by referring to case-study work with 55 sexually exploited young women. The chapter then identifies a specific case study to look at resilience factors that contribute to the young person feeling stronger, more capable of recovering from abuse, and of preventing it from reoccurring.
This introductory chapter first sets out the purpose of the book, which is to examine the contested nature of policy and practice concerned with the identification and management of risk in the lives of the young. It illustrates the varying ways in which society constructs and reconstructs the definitions and parameters of risk from birth to early adulthood. The chapter addresses a number of themes that illustrate the ambiguities and tensions inherent in current policy and practice regarding children and young people. It then discusses growing up and the perception and experience of risks, categorising risk, the ‘risk society’, and the position of children and young people within risk discourse. An overview of the subsequent chapters is also presented.