Posted: 15 May 2019

Sexual exploitation can have a lasting impact on young people and their families

16 and 17 year olds who are groomed and exploited will often experience serious problems with their physical and emotional well-being. This can impact their relationship with family members, who themselves can experience mental health issues as a result.   

The family and community section of our Transitions into Adulthood report, produced in partnership with PACE, explores how the current child protection system is not equipped to deal effectively with this type of abuse or to respond appropriately to both young people’s and parents’ needs.

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Those supposed to help actually made matters worse

Ruth shares her experience of dealing with her daughter’s exploitation:

‘Anyone who’s had to deal with CSE will know that the issues faced are traumatic, complex and highly fraught for everyone involved. The response therefore calls for a unique set of skills and knowledge, informed by experience of actually working with families and individuals affected’.

1 in 4 prosecutions in child sexual abuse cases are unsuccessful

‘The agencies that were supposed to help us proved to be ineffective. These same agencies ended up compounding the awful experiences suffered by my daughter. This was primarily due to a lack of understanding of the complexities involved with CSE and the changing context of this criminal activity’.

How can we effectively tackle child sexual exploitation?

Services must move towards a safeguarding model where they work together with families to protect children from extra-familial threats. PACE has shown that this model increases the chance of success of early interventions, and prevents abuse from escalating.

By training frontline professionals, sharing information from services with parents, and providing emotional support and advocacy, PACE have seen a reduction in children going missing from home, a reduction in children entering care, and an increase in convictions using the intelligence that parents share to assist police investigations. 

This model needs to be developed widely so the cycle of exploitation is disrupted across all areas of the UK.

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By Kaja Zuvac-Graves
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