Identifying and responding to child sexual abuse within complex safeguarding approaches

November 8, 2021

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Complex safeguarding is an approach to responding to criminal activity (often organised) or behaviour associated with criminality, involving children and adults, where there are concerns of exploitation and/or safeguarding concerns. Complex safeguarding often involves agencies and practitioners, working together to tackle various forms of exploitation – primarily child sexual exploitation and child criminal exploitation. It goes beyond a traditional focus on younger children and harm within a home environment to address the specific circumstances and needs of adolescents and their experiences beyond a domestic setting.

CWASU’s senior research fellow Jo Lovett, worked with the centre for expertise on child sexual abuse on this small-scale exploratory study, which considers the extent to which all forms of child sexual abuse feature in the work of professionals working within a complex safeguarding team.

Findings highlight the complexities of language used around child sexual abuse and child sexual exploitation and the challenges professions face in addressing concerns of child sexual abuse – especially without verbal disclosure – while endeavouring to build and maintain relationships of trust with young people.

Complex safeguarding remains a developing approach, but this study adds valuable insights on the role it currently plays in tackling child sexual abuse.

The full report can be accessed here. 

 

  • Authors:
    Jo Lovett, Dr Jasmin Tregidga