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Child sexual exploitation in South East Wales: problems and solutions from the perspectives of young people and professionals

Hallett, Sophie ORCID: 2013. Child sexual exploitation in South East Wales: problems and solutions from the perspectives of young people and professionals. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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The thesis examines a social phenomenon that has come to be referred to within UK policy discourse as ‘child sexual exploitation’. It is a qualitative, inter-disciplinary study, presenting new data drawn from a series of semi-structured interviews. Two groups of interviewees feature in the thesis: young people with personal experience of sexual exploitation; and professionals with varied responsibilities for identification and onward referral in this area. The aim of the thesis is to provide an in-depth understanding of child sexual exploitation through a thematic analysis of the rich accounts provided by those directly involved. The thesis is about child sexual exploitation. At the same time it is about a range of problems – personal, social and professional – that beset and inform this public issue. The thesis explores the wider problems experienced by young people with particular experience of child sexual exploitation, and also the problems experienced by professionals seeking to work effectively with young people identified in this way. However, at root the thesis addresses the possibility that (further) problems might arise from the way in which ‘child sexual exploitation’ itself is conceptualised within policy frameworks in Wales. In particular, the thesis develops an analysis that is critical of policy that wholly defines and provides an explanation for ‘child sexual exploitation’ according to a ‘grooming model’ – and one in which children and young people figure predominantly as the passive victims of predatory adult perpetrators. The findings suggest that there are multiple forms of sexual exploitation, and central to any understanding of sexual exploitation is that underpinning the exchange of sex is the meeting (and taking advantage) of unmet needs. The findings also relay broader messages about the role of care in prevention and intervention work. Whilst the thesis acknowledges and in no way dismisses ‘grooming’ as a way of understanding child sexual exploitation, it is argued that a re-articulation of the grooming model is needed in order to recognize that children and young people can be aware of the coercive nature of their relationships, and to give greater weight to the reasons why they may choose to stay in exploitative relationships. In addition, it is argued that ‘child sexual exploitation’ (as a policy concept) should include other kinds of transactional sex which may be more transient, but equally raise questions about the range of choices available to young people that prompt them to exchange sex for financial, emotional or material reward. The thesis is exploratory and critical in its contribution to an understanding of child sexual exploitation and professional practice, and seeks to provide insights and understanding to a mixed audience, both academic and professional.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Funders: NISCHR
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2022 09:22

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