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Meeting the physical & psychological health needs of young people involved in or vulnerable to sexual exploitation Gabrielle Tracy McClelland, Senior Research.

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Presentation on theme: "Meeting the physical & psychological health needs of young people involved in or vulnerable to sexual exploitation Gabrielle Tracy McClelland, Senior Research."— Presentation transcript:

1 Meeting the physical & psychological health needs of young people involved in or vulnerable to sexual exploitation Gabrielle Tracy McClelland, Senior Research Fellow/Senior Lecturer Supervisors: Professor Newell & Dr Sture

2 Defining child sexual exploitation Child sexual exploitation involves exploitative situations, contexts & relationships where young people receive ‘something’ as a result of performing &/or others performing on them sexual activities Reference: National Working Group for Sexually Exploited Children & Young People. 2

3 Language is important As it influences the response towards young people e.g. affair rather than exploitation denies the criminal element 3

4 There is always a power differential between a vulnerable young person and an adult Autonomy is eroded in cse, Self determination and choice are reduced The young person may be objectified & seen as a commodity Human rights are infringed 4

5 5 Background to the study Accurate prevalence data do not exist ; (various estimates of scale & unreliable data) Child sexual exploitation is a contemporary global issue effecting thousands of children. Recent high profile events have drawn attention to child sexual exploitation (JC & HW). There has been a recognition that sexually exploited children & young people are abused children requiring safeguarding, not prosecuting.

6 Value of the research Emphasis is on prevention, protection & prosecution (limited attention to cse prior to 2000, SCIP, updated 2009) Explores strategies to improve health & reduce risk Health is an ‘Every Child Matters’ outcome 6

7 Value of the research Raises profile of vulnerable young people Offers young people a chance to express their opinions about matters that effect them (silent consumers of health care) This is novel & original research in an under researched area (research available tends to relate to familial sexual abuse, over 18’s & sex work) 7

8 8 Research aims To identify the range of physical & psychological health needs of sexually exploited young people. To explore perspectives of risks to health. To identify barriers to meeting health needs. To recommend strategies to improve health.

9 9 Methodology Study Design Sequential mixed methods Phase 1- Phenomenological approach taken. Face to face interviews were undertaken with 24 young people involved in or vulnerable to sexual exploitation. Phase 2- A questionnaire survey was undertaken in 11 agencies with professionals supporting this group.

10 10 The young people Were aged between 13 & 18 years Two young people were male & 22 were female One young person described herself as Black British One young person described herself as Pakistani Twenty two young people were White British

11 11 Health issues included Physical health Psychological health & intentional self harm Sexual health Drug & alcohol misuse

12 12 Physical health Under weight: 5 (3 describe self as anorexic) Over weight: 2 Poor sleep: 3 Deep vein thrombosis:1 Hepatitis C+:1, Hepatitis B +:1 Physical assaults

13 13 Psychological health Stress: 4 Anxiety: 2 (1 fears going out) Panic attacks: 2 Emotional problems: 5 Low mood: 8. Paranoid thoughts: 2

14 14 Intentional self harm 5 people reported self laceration. 1 person burn her arm. 1 person swallowed razor blades 3 people reported self poisoning 1 person sniffed gas (with suicidal intent)

15 15 Sexual health Most young people reported using genito-urinary medicine clinics Sexually assaulted:3 Slept with men for shelter:1 Unplanned pregnancy:7 Miscarriage: 2 Planned termination of pregnancy: 1.

16 16 Reported drug use Current drug use: 18, no drug use 5, not discussed 1 amphetamine (8) ecstasy (9) cocaine(3) crack (3) heroin (4), (2 intravenous drug users & described self as a ‘prostitute’) cannabis: 12, tobacco: 14

17 17 Reported alcohol use Declared alcohol use:16 Not stated alcohol use but use drugs:5 No drug use & no alcohol use:3 Drinking patterns Safe limits:1 Increased & high risk drinking: 8 Dependent use:7

18 18 Important factors in accessing health care according to young people & professionals in this study Staff Service design Service delivery

19 19 Staff Staff who are able to display warmth, empathy & respect Have a genuine interest in them & other young people Young people prefer to be supported by people whom they consider to be young. Prefer choice of gender of staff

20 20 Service design (what it offers) Local, accessible, open access Short time to be seen/receive test results Young people prefer services that combine interventions Support for their families & significant others involved in their lives. Help lines targeting young people to offer health advice & information Age specific services Health support & health education in schools

21 21 Service delivery (How the service is provided) Age appropriate information Avoid treating young people as adults or patronizing them. Consultation with young people regarding service design/delivery. Respect, confidentiality & autonomy to make choices Option to be escorted to appointments by a familiar person Combining a difficult intervention with a positive experience

22 Recommendations Child & young person oriented services Flexible services central to the young person’s needs Open access & outreach services ‘Front of house’ staff who are skilled & friendly Clear & accessible confidentiality policies 22

23 Early identification & intervention Interagency, multi-professional working Care & protection delivered together Harm reduction approach Holistic care 23 Recommendations

24 24 In summary…….. Significant levels of health problems were reported by both the young people in this study & the professionals supporting them. A taxonomy of risk taking behaviours was apparent Frequent examples of health needs being inadequately addressed were cited. Vulnerability is increased by not addressing health needs effectively

25 25 Thank you Gabrielle Tracy McClelland


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