Ofsted report – children at risk from sexual exploitation, expert reaction

Ofsted have published a report highlighting the problem of child sexual exploitation, calling for it to be made a priority. The report is an in depth survey of how local authorities deal with child sexual exploitation and highlights how the risks are not understood.

The University of Bedfordshire’s International Centre: Researching child sexual exploitation, violence and trafficking have carried out their own research into the problem:

“Research published in 2011 by the University of Bedfordshire showed that whilst comprehensive policy guidance was in place to provide effective safeguarding responses to child sexual exploitation, this was poorly implemented and more recent research confirms that this continues to be the case.

Local information sharing arrangements and referral pathways between agencies remain under-developed and professionals receive insufficient training and support in order to identify the signs of child sexual exploitation and respond to them confidently and effectively.

Research also shows that young people remain reluctant to come forward and disclose their experiences of abuse. Our forthcoming report ‘Making Justice Work’ shows that when they do the criminal justice system does not respond in a way that is fit for purpose; often leaving young people further traumatised by the experience.

Effective responses to the complexity of these issues require that local authorities actively identify the forms of child sexual exploitation that are evident at local level. Only then can they develop strategies to ensure that resources are allocated accordingly, that the mechanisms exist to share information between agencies and that professionals are trained to provide appropriate safeguarding responses.

Our work in Europe through the ‘Our Voices’ project shows how young people are taking action themselves in combating exploitation and sexual violence in its multiple forms and solutions will be found by working together with young people and their parents and families in order to understand how the system should work better for them.”


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