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During adolescence, young people are exposed to a range of risks beyond their family homes including sexual and criminal exploitation, peer-on-peer abuse and gang-related violence. However, it has only been over the past two decades that the critical safeguarding implications of these harms have started to be recognised. Social care organisations are increasingly experimenting with new approaches but continue to experience challenges in supporting affected young people and their families.
This book analyses the results of the first rapid evidence assessment of social care organisations’ responses to risks and harms outside the home across 10 countries. The authors highlight key areas for service development, give insights into how these risks and harms can be understood, and consider wider implications for policy and practice.
This chapter shares examples of how social care services have successfully engaged with peer, school and (to a lesser extent) community settings associated with extra-familial risks and harms to improve young people’s well-being and safety. It highlights how structural factors, such as poverty, racism and sexism, appear to undermine the efficacy of interventions and organisational responses if their effects remain unaddressed, and outlines recommendations made in the literature for approaches found to be beneficial. The chapter ends by noting the limitations of individualised social care responses that focus on changing the behaviour of young people and fail to address the wider social structures of systems that create, or sustain, risks beyond the family home. It also highlights that while the evidence base for contextual practice interventions is well established, the integration of such an approach into wider system design is relatively underdeveloped.
This chapter sets the context for the rest of the book by tracing the increased awareness over the past 15 years of safeguarding risks and harms experienced by young people beyond the home and family, and how they have been responded to at a policy and service level both within the UK and internationally. The extra-familial risks and harms that are included within this umbrella concept are clarified. The chapter starts with an exploration of the gradual conceptual shift from such notions as ‘child prostitution’ to ‘child sexual exploitation’ and introduces the protection–participation dichotomy that is a key locus of professional struggle. The chapter moves on to explore the ethical and conceptual complexities engendered by a dawning recognition of child criminal exploitation. Attention is given to how challenges of safeguarding young people during adolescence are shared across various countries in the Global North, despite current divergent definitions of the harms faced by this group and how social work responses to them have been configured. The chapter closes by detailing the structure of the book and the contribution it will make to policy and service development in the UK and beyond.
Efforts to improve interagency working in situations of extra-familial risks and harms were often highlighted within the literature reviewed for this book as a critical element in creating the conditions within which effective practice could thrive. This chapter explores the rationale and methods for enhancing cooperation and building a common purpose among partner organisations, which each have a role to play in responding to EFRH. These include: co-locating professionals from different organisations; the development of multi-agency protocols and information-sharing agreements; the co-commissioning of responses; and the streamlining of multi-agency meetings and decision-making processes. The challenges that professionals face when trying to work across agencies, and the effects of inadequate collaboration on service delivery and young people’s welfare, are considered. The chapter ends by presenting challenges and successes in moving towards shared interagency definitions of adolescence, vulnerability and extra-familial risks and harms.
This chapter sets out a succinct version of the methodology of the evidence review upon which this book is based, including the questions, terminologies, search and screening strategy, and the framework approach to analysis. An integrated way of defining extra-familial risks and harms is outlined, alongside offering approaches to subcategorisation that illustrate where these forms of harm, and the responses to them, vary and align. Five themes established through the framework analysis are presented, which characterise promising or effective practice interventions or organisational/whole-system responses. They are combined with the harm-type analysis to create a typology of social care responses to extra-familial risks and harms. The limitations of the review and the nature of the evidence it identified are then discussed. The chapter ends by explaining how each of the five promising or effective social care responses to extra-familial risks and harms form the focus of Chapters Three to Eight.
One of the most common sets of service responses identified through the evidence review were those that made use of, or sought to build, relationships between young people affected by extra-familial risks and harms, and the protective adults around them. In this chapter, we discuss these types of responses and the conditions in which they appear most effective. In particular, we explore the routes that services took to build trust and collaboration between young people and the professionals charged with keeping them safe. Examples from the literature reviewed are used to demonstrate various approaches to relationship building. Looking beyond relationships between young people and professionals, this chapter also explores the evidence base for approaches seeking to build relationships within young people’s own social and community contexts, as well as those aiming to strengthen the protective capacity of the relationships that young people have with parents and other carers.
This chapter defines and outlines what counts as youth centred in the practice models and systems described and evaluated in the literature. The principles underlying effective approaches that are discussed in this chapter include: offering flexible and collaborative support, built on principles of agency and choice; ensuring support is age appropriate and attuned to such factors as gender, ethnicity, sexuality and ability; recognising and responding to the impact of trauma experienced by young people; and responding to the specific challenges and needs during transition to adulthood. The key message of the chapter is that youth-centred systems and practice responses need to be designed and implemented to work with, rather than against, the range of young people’s developmental needs during adolescence, and to ensure that the conditions for collaborative practice are safe and sustainable.
The evidence review underpinning this book highlighted the need for service design and interventions to engage with the specific dynamics of extra-familial risks and harms. The studies identified in this review reported a ‘poor fit’ between system responses and the nature of extra-familial risks and harms in various ways. The review analysis identified three key recommendations related to these shortcomings, which are outlined in this chapter. First, social care systems and services currently centring around familial (largely parenting) assessment and intervention need to broaden their scope to include peer, school and community contexts where EFRH occurs. Second, responses to extra-familial risks and harms need to be welfare, rather than criminal justice, oriented, including for young people who straddle both victim and perpetrator identities (or have committed offences in the context of being victimised through extra-familial risks and harms). Finally, services need to recognise and respond to the gains (material and otherwise) that young people may experience when caught up in extra-familial risks and harms. This chapter explores what each of these recommendations suggests about the dynamics of extra-familial risks and harms and the implications for the design of future social care responses.
Taken as a whole, the five characteristics of promising or effective social care responses, which have been detailed across the previous chapters, provide a thematic foundation for developing future responses to extra-familial risks and harms. In this penultimate chapter, we note that while each can be drawn upon in isolation to inform service development, it is at their intersection that they most flourish, and they require certain system principles to be in operation. The response characteristics and system principles are then integrated to provide a framework that can support the design of new systems and services, or improve existing provision. The chapter closes with questions for policymakers, commissioners and service providers about the extent to which existing systems and practices align with the response characteristics surfaced through this review.
This closing chapter reflects on the implications of the framework produced through this review for improving responses to extra-familial risks and harms in the UK and other countries with a sufficiently comparable framework for understanding and responding to child welfare, safeguarding and youth justice. Questions are posed about what the integrated definition of extra-familial risks and harms presented in this book signals for existing policy and practice, and whether transformation, rather than improvement, of systems and interventions might be necessary. Knowledge gaps that future research needs to address are outlined. The book closes by proposing an ethical approach to innovation and development, which prioritises human rights, social justice and the voices of young people.