Young person-centred approaches in CSE - promoting participation and building self-efficacy: Frontline Briefing (2017)
Effective safeguarding responses to CSE require approaches tailored to the needs of adolescents and their growing sense of autonomy. Professionals responding to CSE from all agencies must be committed to listening to young people and engaging them in decision-making processes, as recommended in national and international government guidance.
Many young people using CSE services or engaged in related criminal justice processes report experiencing a loss of control and increased stigma, often linked to poor communication and exclusion from decision-making. Services involved in supporting young people affected by CSE need to carefully consider how to avoid replicating the disempowerment that characterises exploitative relationships.
Child or young person-centred and participatory practice tends to be poorly defined, variably understood and inconsistently integrated into practice responses to CSE.
Involving young people in decision- making about their care involves working with and managing risk, as opposed to adopting more risk averse approaches. It involves reframing children and young people’s agency as a resource rather than a problem and requires staff to have access to robust organisational support for help dealing with the challenges and ethical dilemmas that emerge.
Opportunities to engage young people in decision-making about their care and support require organisational commitment, support for staff and the time and resources for relational-based working as a minimum.
Emerging evidence suggests participatory approaches to practice hold potential therapeutic benefits and may help to address some of the impacts of CSE: for example countering stigma, isolation and a poor sense of self-efficacy with opportunities to experience a sense of purpose, connection and an impact on effecting tangible change.
Children and young people’s participation is a fundamental aspect of protecting them. At its most fundamental it supports and amplifies young people’s voices and challenges the cultures of silence in which abuse flourishes. Evidence also suggests that where young people affected by CSE are informed about, and engaged in, decision- making processes about their care, they are less likely to resist or disengage from professional support.
PQS:KSS - Relationships and effective direct work | Communication | Abuse and neglect of children | Developing excellent practitioners | Purposeful and effective social work | Effective use of power and authority | Developing excellent practitioners | Support effective decision-making
PCF - Values and ethics | Rights, justice and economic wellbeing | Knowledge | Intervention and skills