The Derby Experience • Janet Foulds-Service Manager of the Child Sexual Abuse Unit, Derby • Phillip Morris, Deputy Head of Service - Integrated Services • Johanna Collins Social Worker for Children in Care • Derby City Council
Definition of Sexual Exploitation • The sexual exploitation of children and young people under 18 involves exploitative situations, contexts and relationships where young people (or third party or persons) receive ‘something’ (e.g. Food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, affection, gifts, money) as a result of performing, and/or others performing on them, sexual activities. • Child sexual exploitation can occur through use of technology without the child’s immediate recognition, for example the persuasion to post sexual images on the internet/mobiles phones with no immediate payment or gain. In all cases those exploiting the child/young person have power over them by virtue of their age, gender, intellect, physical strength and/or economic or other resources. • Definition developed by the National Working Group for Sexually Exploited Children and Young People, 2008
Management of Social workers working with sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children and young people
Complexity of the management task in understanding social work, sexual exploitation and sexual abuse - what is different? • understanding it is different • multiple organisational factors that must be balanced: resources, case allocation, time, support structures, organisational requirements, working within a legal framework, policy and procedures. • social workers and managers must be aware of not falling to the default position of being driven by the process, procedures and paperwork! • should we discriminate when allocating sexual exploitation work.
Factors for consideration when allocating sexual exploitation work • workers experience and feelings towards the work and young people. • workers belief system and understanding of the complexity of sexual exploitation. • ability to manage the volume and complexity of information (we can drown in it). • ability to cope with prioritising the victims needs over demands of the organisation (spend time with victims, if you don’t the perpetrators will). • ability to be organised, purposeful and focussed.
Understanding the nature of the work • chasing the young person and trying to keep up (expanse of professional energy in detection and picking up the pieces). • young person will often see the worker as ‘the enemy and in the way’, young people who are being victimised are likely to be controlled and threatened by the perpetrators. • working with exclusion and resistance (the isolated young person). • mainstream interventions often do not work (this can lead to a frustrated professional network).
Supervision • supervision is key in the support to workers in this highly complex and difficult area. • a reflection of what supervision is - what will it mean to the worker and manager within the context of this area of practice. • supervision needs to be open, honest and a place to share feelings and emotions and how the worker is coping. • if supervision is procedurally driven to timescale and outcome focussed this may be a block to understanding the impact on the worker. • in managing risks to young people we have to understand the risks to workers- secondary trauma and compassion fatigue, exhaustion and feelings of hopelessness.
What will help? • recognition of the complexity and demands of this work and potential impact on workers. • try to focus more on the content of what is happening, both in terms of casework and how the worker is managing as opposed to the organisational processes. • setting a clear supervision agreement from the outset helps to create a climate of openness and mutual understanding between manager and worker. • make sure it happens - supervision so often gets side- lined with the demands of the work. • continually consider the likelihood of trauma to workers through understanding some of the signs: working long hours, exhaustion, struggling to cope, and poor decision making.
What will help? - continued • ongoing risk assessment focussing upon the workers support needs and the work being undertaken. • outside consultation and support. • use of group supervision and peer support when working with exploitation and sexual abuse.
Working with Children in Care Who Have Been Sexually Exploited
Common Factors • Bereavement, separation and loss in early years • Absent Fathers • Parents alcohol, drug misuse, mental health issues in child’s early years • Lack of emotional care from Mothers in early years.
What do social workers need to hear from children? • We need your time • Flexibility • Perseverance • You to respond to our crisis not yours • Emotion- we need to know our pain matters to you • We do not want a “brave face” from you- It should matter!
Continued • Keep us in mind- cards, letters, texts, be there when you say you will be, even if I am not. • Do not make every interaction with me be about what is going on.....I am about more than that. • Know that I have a future.
Challenges • Conflict between needs of children, other agencies and the service. • Volume of information • Coordinating and understanding information • Workers own experience and knowledge • Support for workers
Challenges continued • How cases are allocated- who has space, measured in numbers • No case load reduction • No consideration to emotional space of the social worker or for the social worker • Value not given to time for reflection and reading, research • Demand on social workers time to attend additional meetings
Challenges continued • Dealing with the uncertainties and realities of the work and what can be achieved • The long term aspect and commitment of the work • Being ‘under the spotlight’. • Responding to every crisis.
Barriers to Working with Young People Experiencing sexual Exploitation • Young person likely to believe they are in a relationship with the perpetrator and be ‘in love’. • Love is measured in things, money, gifts, phones, jewellery • The hours they keep, their missing episodes, • Aggressive, volatile behaviour • Withdrawn avoidant behaviour • Compliant behaviour
Young People frequently criminalised for behaviour demonstrated while making attempts to leave placement while trying to meet the demands of the perpetrator • Other professionals perceptions about a young person’s choice about behaviour and involvement with networks and perpetrators. • Many agencies/individual professional involved- not always knowing at what level they engage with the child/young person.
Court and Legal representatives Pre trial/during trial involvement Crown Prosecution service Safeguarding Manager family Victim Support Social Worker Police Service Manager Young Person Specialist service for CSE Residential Services Drugs and alcohol misuse worker Youth Offending Drama Therapist
Victim Support After the trial involvement Safeguarding Manager Social Worker Service Manager Young Person family Residential Services Youth Offending
What I learnt from supporting young people through the court trial • Preparation for the social worker is important • Social worker needs information prior to the trial of the detail of the child/young person’s experiences of abuse and the evidence. • Social worker to view child’s video evidence prior to the trial • It is easy to feel intimidated by the culture and the environment of the multi disciplinary team involved- ask questions- and ask again and again until you have the answers you need. • There is a significant amount of perceived knowledge within the professional networks that adds to the feelings of intimidation and inexperience for the social worker.
Impact of the Media Post Trial • Young People starting to build a future- media attention caused crisis for young people and re traumatised. • Other young people not seen as ‘victims’ also re traumatised due to recognition that their experiences had not been acknowledged in evidence and conviction • Young people’s lives on the front page and advertising news boards • Young people feeling that everyone would know that “it was them” in the paper • Fear of reprisals from perpetrators families and associates.
What Works • Uphold the principles of multi agency working • Information sharing • Multi Agency Chronologies • Assessments that make sense of history and look at patterns, critical analysis. • Child centred approach • Working within the basic principles of social work
Tool Bag • What the young people have said they want you to know. Remember what do children want social workers to hear? • Opportunities and time for direct work and spending time developing a relationship with them • Being consistent and reliable- being there • Sharing their emotional experiences • Respecting that they may not be able to change or stop the risk taking behaviour just yet but help them to plan for being safe.
When you may become involved in working with children at risk of sexual exploitation/ abuse • Prior to exploitation occurring- early years common factors, risk factors- early intervention. • Young person already entrenched in sexual exploitation and risk taking behaviour • During and after an investigation into sexual exploitation and abuse.
Your tool bag is emptiest and you feel powerless at the point when the young person is entrenched in sexual exploitation. • Social work can make the most impact in early identification of those at risk. • Working with young people who have moved away from being sexually exploited want a future...they want you to remember it is not all that they are.
The Future • Build on a young person’s strengths and resilience factors • Acknowledge that they may not be ready to engage in education, therapy etc, but help them to plan a future • Accept their choices and support them to manage the risks. • Spend time enjoying being with them- do something fun together!
Hope • Be realistic about the achievement of the children and young people you are working with. 1) young person I am working with is successfully managing a tenancy on a property with a semi supported accommodation provider- 18 months after being in secure accommodation for her own safety. She is likely to be soliciting but is able to discuss managing risk and planning to ensure she is taking precautions to keep herself safe.
Another young person has maintained a residential placements for a year after leaving secure accommodation and has had no further criminal convictions for criminal damage or physical assault. She no longer absconds and engages with her social care worker.
Another young person has continued to have relationships that have placed her at risk but has been able to identify this for herself and has approached social care for assistance in distancing herself from the risky individual. She continues to engage with her social care worker to keep herself safe from him and also to develop strategies in identifying signs of potentially abusive partners.