Topic Child Sexual Exploitation 1

Working Effectively to Address Child Sexual Exploitation: Evidence Scope (2017) Appendix A

Published: 28/10/2017

Author: Eaton J, Holmes D


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Eaton J & Holmes D. (2017). Working Effectively to Address Child Sexual Exploitation: Evidence Scope (2017) Appendix A. Dartington: Research in Practice. Download citation file


Appendix A


In relation to the original version (2015) the scoping exercise took place between April and July 2015 and focused on the following key areas:

  • definitions and the interpretation of CSE within the UK;
  • contextual factors that inform understanding of,
  • recognition and response to CSE;
  • and what is important when working with sexually exploited young people, or those at risk of CSE.

In relation to the revised version (2017) the scoping exercise for the revised document took place between April and August 2017 and sought to build on and update the existing key areas from 2015.

It is important to emphasise that this is not a systematic review; the literature is wide ranging and from a variety of disciplines, and it was beyond the remit of the commission to scientifically assess the reliability and validity of the research findings referred to. However, the work does largely draw on peer-reviewed and published research, using reputable sources in order to offer some assurance regarding the quality of the research. The intention of the project was to identify principles for effective practice from the evidence available in order to enable change and inform service and practice development.

Searches were undertaken on a range of databases and using different search engines. Additionally, searches were undertaken on Hansard and charity/voluntary organisation websites and policy documents. As Brodie et al note (2011) policy is often deemed to be ahead of academic research. This evidence scope includes empirical academic studies and a large selection of grey literature including unpublished material, case studies, systematic reviews, inquiries, empirical non-academic studies, evaluations, policy documents and practical resources designed for practitioners and those at risk of CSE. The sources accessed include databases, search engines, books, journals and websites. The scope does not include international comparisons; case studies; parents, families and young people’s views - other than that reported in existing literature; and although there has been considerable media interest in the issues of CSE, analysis of media reports is outside the remit of this work.

Search strategy

Key texts which informed the selection of keywords and provided an initial scope of resources included Corby (2006); Corby et al 2012; Hanson & Holmes (2014); Brown et al (2016); Beckett et al (2017) and publications and resources on the website of the University of Bedfordshire: The International Centre: researching child sexual exploitation, violence and trafficking, the CSA Centre for Expertise (2017) and the work of Professor Sarah Brown et al. for the Early Intervention Foundation (2016) and later work (2017).

Both general literature on child safeguarding, child sexual abuse (CSA), organisational practices, and specific literature on CSE (CSA) were reviewed. Specific searches were conducted for the following categories:

  • Definitions of CSA and CSE – including historical definitions
  • Definitions of a vulnerable or ‘at risk’ young person
  • CSE policy and practice - including the historical development of policy and practice
  • How vulnerability to CSE is currently assessed
  • Prevalence of CSE > Interventions and resources to tackle CSE
  • User-led / needs focused service development

For each of the above categories, sources related to CSE policy and practice in the UK were prioritised, although global sources were also considered for context or to supplement a lack of UK-based resources in particular areas.

For electronic searching, terms concerned with CSE definitions, context and practice were used as well as multi- agency practices, user-led service design and organisation change in consideration of informing future service developments. Keywords were tailored to those used by particular databases and search engines and the following were used:



Keyword 1

Keyword 2

Keyword 3

Key Phrases

Cross Cutting (i.e. used in all search strategies)

'Child sexual exploitation / CSE'

'Child sexual abuse / CSA'

UK / United Kingdom / Britain / England


Definitions of CSA and CSE


Discourse / language of


"Child Sexual Abuse / child sexual exploitation online"
"Child Sexual Abuse / child sexual exploitation and gangs"
"Organised Child Sexual Exploitation"
"Grooming and Child Sexual Exploitation"

Definitions of vulnerable or 'at risk' YP

Vulnerable / high risk / risk factors

Teenagers / adolescents / young people

Gangs / missing / run away / online / sexual health

"High risk young people"
"exploiter exploitee relationships"

CSE policy and practice

Policy / framework



"Safeguarding and Child Sexual Exploitation"

How vulnerability to CSE is assessed

Assessment / assess

Teenagers / adolescents / young people / perpetrator

Risk / need


Prevalence of CSE

Prevalence / Incidence




Interventions and resources to tackle CSE





Needs focused service development





Organisational change

Change-theory / theory of change / in practice / Lewin's theory of change / resistance to change

public organisation / healthcare / social care / social work / Children's services / Multi-agency / inter-professional

Service change / service culture / change / service development / Service design


*Very few resources were found for these particular search terms specifically in relation to CSE service design, so wider resources relating to user-led service design and organisation change in health and social care were consulted.

Only English language sources were accessed.

Results from the initial search numbered in excess of 2,000. After a number of duplicate results were removed, exclusion criteria included:

  • Studies related to other countries – unless for comparative context or if no UK-related results could be found
  • Resources before the year 2000, unless relevant to historical context
  • Serious case reviews, case studies and resources for tackling CSE were prioritised in terms of recency.

Search terms and searches for 2017 revised edition

Please note that all searches for the 2017 revision used both the acronym and the full extension of CSE and CSA. The literature tends to use both now that the acronyms are becoming accepted in literature.


Keyword 1

Keyword 2

Keyword 3

Key phrases




Definitions of CSA and CSE


Description / explanation / language / wording


'Differences between CSE and CSA' / 'Definition of CSE' / 'Definition of CSA' / 'Definition of grooming' / 'Define CSE' / 'Defining child sexual exploitation as abuse' / 'Definition of child exploitation'

Vulnerability, risk and indicators

Vulnerab(le) (ility) (ilities)

Risk indicators / risk / CSE risk / risk taking / indicators / symptoms / risk factors


'CSE risk' / 'Risk factors for CSE' / 'Indicators for CSE' / 'Vulnerability to CSE' / 'Vulnerabilities and abuse' / 'Vulnerabilities and exploitation' / 'risk indicators in CSE' / 'risk indicators for CSA' /

Interventions and practice in CSE

Response / support / assessment / treatment

Child sexual exploitation / child sexual abuse

Children / young people / adolescents

'supporting children after CSE' / 'support for CSE victims' / 'needs of children after CSE' / 'working with children after CSE' / 'responding to children affected by CSE' / 'responding to CSE' / 'interventions for CSE' / 'assessment in CSE' / 'CSE toolkit assessments' / 'risk assessments in CSE' / 'programmes in CSE' / 'education in CSE' / 'educational resources in CSE' / 'psychoeducation in CSE' / 'RSE in CSE' / 'evidence based working in CSE' / 'trauma support in CSE' / 'trauma-informed response to CSE'

Databases searched

EBSCO Medline CINAHL Plus with Full text Academic Search Premier PsycInfo Psychology and Behavioural Sciences Collection Social Care Online

Websites Consulted

  • Barnardo's
  • The CSA Centre for Expertise
  • Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS)
  • Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP)
  • Children’s social care research and development centre (CASCADE – Cardiff University)
  • Early Intervention Foundation
  • NSPCC – including NSPCC National Case review repository
  • National Working Group Network for Tackling Child Sex Exploitation
  • Research in Practice (RiP)
  • Social Care Institute for Excellence
  • Social Care Workforce Research Unit (King’s College London)
  • The Children’s Society
  • University of Bedfordshire – The International Centre: Researching child sexual exploitation, violence and trafficking.

Government sites

  • Department for Children, Schools and Families – archived
  • Department for Education
  • Department of Health
  • Local Government Association and Local Government Websites (various – re: serious case reviews and working practices)
  • Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England
  • Ofsted

Hand searched journals

  • Child Abuse Review, Journal of Sexual Aggression

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