Recognising and responding to young people with learning disabilities who experience, or are at risk of, child sexual exploitation in the UK

Anita Franklin*, Emilie Smeaton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

In the UK, child sexual exploitation (CSE) has received considerable attention in the last few years, with evidence pointing to an increased risk for young people with learning disabilities. However, no study has specifically focused on this and little is known about how best to protect, identify or support this group. This paper is based on a UK study which examined the identification of, and support for sexual exploited young people with learning disabilities. Data collection included surveys of all local authorities in the UK and of a sample of services supporting vulnerable or disabled children, in-depth interviews with 34 professional stakeholders and with 27 young people with learning disabilities who were at risk of, or who had experienced CSE. This paper provides an overview of the study and identifies areas for improvement in policy and practice including the need for education, training and awareness raising amongst young people, their families and professionals; tackling social isolation, disempowerment and invisibility of young people with learning disabilities, and the need for full implementation of government guidance with a spotlight on this group of young people.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)474-481
Number of pages8
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Volume73
Early online date9 Nov 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017

Keywords

  • Child protection
  • Child sexual abuse
  • Child sexual exploitation
  • Disabled children
  • Learning disability
  • Sexual violence, social work practice, prevention of child abuse

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