This is an obvious statement but one which may sometimes get forgotten amongst the organisational protocol, MASH and referral systems. To maintain open dialogue with the child or young person is crucial in developing the positive relationship that may be key to breaking the cycle of abuse. Be prepared to give time; time that may challenge Service expectations and norm. This relationship, trust and communication cannot be underestimated
Child sexual exploitation, child criminal exploitation and County lines – a common element throughout is the abuse of children, often vulnerable children. Not forgetting a child is legally defined as a person under the age of 18 so it is important not to miss abuse with older teenagers.
We all know this is the logical approach to dealing with social and educational issues. Having a multi- agency response to tackling CSE is crucial with key involvement from the parents and carers as advocated by PACE (Parents Against Child Exploitation) and the Relationship Model. Reading and understanding the Contextual Safeguarding research report from the University of Bedfordshire will give you further insight into the complexities of abuse. Taking time to reflect and review on going cases is a must.
As identified in the evaluation of “See Me, Hear Me” Framework for working with Child Sexual Exploitation, conducted by Sussex University, there are numerous dilemmas between children’s right to safety and protection, and their right to participation in making decisions that affect them. Actively promoting the Rights of the Child and empowering children and young people to get involved and speak out should be part of our proactive professional work. Being aware of our own assumptions and value judgements needs to be at the forefront of our interactions with children, young people and parents/carers. Having confidence to challenge other people’s misconceptions or ignorance regardless of culture, ethnicity sexual orientation or ability and not lose sight of the child abuse issues and reality.
Knowing what the legislation states in relation to child sexual exploitation. April 3rd, 2017 brought a new offence regarding “sexual communication with a child” but how many people communicate this to children, young people and adults. This early intervention action by the police could make a significant difference in preventing further abuse.
Ultimately, we want this abuse to stop. At the Inside Government “Tacking Child Sexual Exploitation Conference” in October 2018, Chief Constable Simon Bailey, National Police lead from CPAI (Child Protection and Abuse Investigation) commented how fundamentally we need to change the way we work. Alarmingly, on line referrals to the National Crime Agency have increased by 700 % and current threats of abuse continue to change. The Conference called for a “social movement”. You can play your part in widening the participation of agencies, parents and carers and other organisations to have increased dialogue, challenge the introverted approach whereby many people refuse to talk about abuse and prioritise what matters – Safeguarding.
Contributed by Karen Livesey, CSE Trai
We are firm believers in how resources, advice and support from our social work community can help everyone’s practice. With this in mind, One Stop Social has a whole range of tools on our site to help practitioners working with children at risk of CSE or who have already been exploited. If you have any books, guides or other resources you think would help your fellow professionals, then get in touch with our team and we’ll get them on our site!