This report presents the findings from an evaluation of a prevention programme on sexual exploitation, delivered by the nia project in partnership with the Children’s Society (TCS).
- In line with the new government violence against women strategy, prevention work should be prioritised in two ways: integrated into PSHE and SRE lessons and augmented by sessions/workshops delivered by knowledgeable specialised organisations and addressing consent to sexual activity as a core theme. Local Safeguarding Children Boards have a vital role to play here in commissioning and supporting specialised organisations to develop and deliver this work.
- Sexual exploitation prevention work with young people, highlighting the grooming process and routes into abusive and exploitative relationships and peer networks, should be recognised as an essential component of wider VAW prevention work. Again this should be addressed in both PSHE/SRE and in specific sessions provided by specialised organisations, available universally for all young people and targeted for those identified as at risk of victimisation or perpetration.
- Local Safeguarding Children Boards should also commission and support prevention work for young people who are disengaged from schools - including but not limited to pupil referral units and youth centres - as research shows these young people are especially vulnerable.
- Local Safeguarding Children Boards should commission training on sexual exploitation for all professionals involved in work with young people, again delivered by specialised organisations with relevant expertise.
- Training for professionals should be at least one full day in order to address the range of issues associated with sexual exploitation, including information about interventions, diversionary approaches and specialised support services, and offering space to apply learning to practice situations. One possibility here is layered courses, to enhance knowledge and expertise, including follow up sessions where professionals can share ways that they have applied learning and barriers to change.
- Specific sessions on disrupting abusers and perpetrators should be developed, given the gaps identified by respondents in this study and others (see Jago & Pearce, 2008).
- Involving young people as trainers, particularly on issues affecting young people, is a promising practice that should be widely adopted, but the resource implications need to be factored in.