Report – Higher Risk Of Sexual Exploitation

children’s Commissioner

Report Finds Councils continue to fail in their duty to protect children from sexual exploitation by and within predatory gangs , a two-year investigation by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner has found.

The report which was published recently, was critical of Children’s Services for continually failing to safeguard children and and whom it feels underestimate the scale of sexual exploitation risk after finding only 6% of local safeguarding children boards (LSCBs) are complying with key government guidance on tackling child sexual exploitation (CSE). Nearly all of the Safeguarding Children’s Boards said that child sexual exploitation is a strategic priority, but only 50% could say how many victims had been detailed within the last 12 months in the local area.

Very public court proceedings in Derby, Oxford and Rochdale highlighted the extent and scope of this type of abuse. Although it highlighted local examples of positive practice, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner found a concerning dearth of knowledge, practice and services required to address the needs of those experiencing Child sexual exploitation despite the higher public profile. The report instead a different and fresh structure called See Me, Hear Me, for those who design, manage or provide services in specific areas of child protection. Developed with those who have experienced sexual exploitation, the structure emphasises professionals should “focus relentlessly on the child”.

Alongside the structure are two other reports , which shine a light on the risk to children and the complexities around their understanding of giving consent to sexual activity. London Metropolitan University conducted extensive interview research with hundreds of young people and found worrying views about sexual activity and consent including the likelihood of young people, particularly females of absorbing guilt and shame if they are sexually exploited.

The University’s evidence the showed a worrying reality of Sexual exploitation in gangs and groups and societal authority failing to tackle the hidden phenomenon of child sexual exploitation, according to the Deputy Children’s Commissioner for England.

Sue Berlowitz is championing a new world in the culture of children’s services so victims’ needs are top of the agenda. The Office’s report ‘If only someone had listened’ tries to do this by providing a structure for practitioners to use when designing or planning services. It is hoped that implementing the new anti-child sexual exploitation structure will achieve this. The research has been widely welcomed in most sectors, but some have expressed concerns that austerity budgets and cuts to services will impede attempts to bring the structure into practice. Source : Community Care Online The Stress And Pressure Of Being A Children’s Social Worker

There are growing concerns , that most social workers are overwhelmed with increasing caseloads and worries that they, and their teams, aren’t able to achieve acceptable standards because of budget cuts, increasing referrals, social care services being pulled in all directions and increasing use of Agency workers. Given the challenging climate the overwhelming majority of child social workers are trying their level best to safeguard children in extremely difficult circumstances.

But when many social workers (three quarters of those who responded in a recent survey) tell you they feel unsupported or under resourced to stop a child at risk from coming that risk being actualised, we all know that there is a real problem that needs addressing. The Department for Education acknowledges the rising number of child protection plans and children in care.

The DfE also stresses that this is reflective of better and earlier interventions of Children’s Services, and shows an increasing awareness of the need to intervene swiftly in children’s situations and proceed quickly to conclude situations to keep children safe. The national picture generally shows that in the last year there was an increase on the year before in terms of numbers put on child protection plans, as well as an increase both in the number of children in care – this was according to the Department For Education.

The Department also highlights government policy with respect to safeguarding : “The Government in light of the Munro Report will continue to focus on overhauling the child protection system , cutting bureaucracy and improving the capacity of social workers so they can make good decisions for children. The vast majority of Children’s Services are prioritising child protection budgets over less important less essential services.” The reality at the coal face for many social workers, according to a recent survey , is a hugely challenging one – with many experiencing stress, high caseloads and irregular supervision.

To disregard social workers’ experiences in light of the pressure they are under seems unfeasible. The need to continue to review and modernise the child protection system in light of Munro is undeniable, and the difficulties of managing budgets in an economically challenging work is clear for all to see. One big challenge, and this connects with the scandal at Mid-Staffordshire Hospital is how social workers are enabled tried to blow the whistle safely and professionally by sharing with us some of the concerns and bad practice they’re facing and the children whose situations they are struggling to protect.

Source : Community Care