Child sex abuse victims not stereotypical

A leading child welfare expert says that we should not be tempted to apply stereotypes to victims of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE). It can happen in all areas of society and we need to be alert to it.

In an article in the Guardian the chief executive at Barnardos has said it is essential that professionals working with children gain a better understanding of the diversity of child sexual exploitation (CSE) victims in order to better tackle this form of child abuse. A stereotype of white British girls tends to dominate discussion at the moment particularly in the wake of the Rotherham and Rochdale revelations. Professionals need to look beyond this stereotype to identify child victims of sexual abuse or those at risk. Recent evidence shows that CSE can affect children regardless of sexuality, gender, ethnicity, (dis)ability or social background.

Professionals should look beyond stereotypes and ask the right questions, such as questioning why an adolescent boy is “hanging out” with a grown man for example. By inverting the situation ie, by asking “if this was a girl would I feel the same way?” professionals may gain extra insight into the case in hand.

The article concludes by stating “It is vital that workers understand that CSE can affect any child or young person. Assumptions must not be made when trying to identify sexual exploitation as each victim has their own unique vulnerabilities, characteristics and qualities. While this is a challenge for professionals when trying to identify young people and children at risk of CSE and provide them with support, it is crucial that it is recognized.”

A link to the full article is provided below.

April 2016

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