Economic and Social Research Council
Taxi drivers and bouncers could help tackle child sex abuse
Taxi drivers, night club bouncers and hotel receptionists could play a role in tackling child sexual exploitation.
“We can’t just leave this problem to child protection authorities, this is everybody’s concern,” says Roma Thomas of the International Centre: Researching child sexual exploitation, violence and trafficking at the University of Bedfordshire.
“Everyone from parents to the taxi driver taking a girl to a well-known party house late at night needs greater awareness and understanding of the problem.”
A new pilot training programme targeted at key workers within the night time economy, is one of several initiatives led by the children’s charity Barnado’s which aim to better safeguard children from sexual exploitation.
The pilot programme (currently running in 12 local authority areas and to be evaluated by researchers from the International Centre), will help hotel receptionists, security staff and others know how to respond to signs of risk for children and young people.
“Understanding local factors in a particular town or area – what’s going on and where the hotspots of potential problems lie – is a crucial part of the programme,” Roma Thomas explains. “Training workers in the night time economy is an innovative and much needed approach to tackling child sexual exploitation.”
Too many people, including parents and carers, are still in the dark about the risks of child exploitation, signs of abuse and how best to keep young people safe, research by the International Centre suggests.
The Centre’s evaluation of an existing six to eight week programme designed by Banardo’s to raise community awareness and work directly with both parents and children to help prevent the exploitation, found many parents bewildered and isolated. The Families and Communities Against Child Sexual Exploitation (FCASE) programme worked with more than 200 families and children where a low or medium risk of sexual exploitation had been identified. During the programme, parents and children received separate but individual support from their key worker, as well as new information on how to stay safe.
“Some of the parents thought themselves fairly internet-savvy but found that they were not and didn’t properly understand how perpetrators groom children or tell-tale signs of abuse such as a child suddenly acting out of character, becoming withdrawn, or having money or items which they can’t have been able to buy,” Ms Thomas points out.
In particular, the programme helped children and parents improve their relationships so that it was possible to make agreements – for example, about internet use or curfew times – and discuss the risks of abuse and how to avoid them.
Thirty case studies of participating families in the research found the level of risk to children, following FCASE, fell in 80 per cent of cases. “Bringing parents into the picture, as well as working with young people, was crucially important,” Ms Thomas states.
Researchers from the International Centre will present a range of examples of their pioneering research in the field of child sexual exploitation to an audience of sixth form and college students at an event on 10 November held during the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Festival of Social Science. The event aims to showcase research across a series of projects, including films made by young people.
Recent high profile cases in Rotherham, Derby, Rochdale, Telford and Oxford have highlighted the on-going problem of child sexual exploitation in the UK. More collaborative, partnership based working – between statutory authorities, the voluntary sector and youth service outreach are now urgently required to better safeguard children and young people at risk, researchers insist.
- Ulrika Meegolla, Media Relations Manager
Telephone: 01582 489399, ext: 9399. or: 07734 981212
Notes for editors
- Event: Applied Social Research – Welcome to Our World
Organiser: Roma Thomas
Date: 10 November 2015
Audience: Sixth form school and college students
- The 13th annual Festival of Social Science takes place from 7-14 November 2015 with over 200 free events nationwide. Run by the Economic and Social Research Council, the Festival provides an opportunity for anyone to meet with some of the country’s leading social scientists and discover, discuss and debate the role that research plays in everyday life. With a whole range of creative and engaging events there’s something for everyone including businesses, charities, schools and government agencies. A full programme of events. You can also join the discussion on Twitter using #esrcfestival. Logos for the festival can be downloaded.
- The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK’s largest funder of research on the social and economic questions facing us today. It supports the development and training of the UK’s future social scientists and also funds major studies that provide the infrastructure for research. ESRC-funded research informs policymakers and practitioners and helps make businesses, voluntary bodies and other organisations more effective. The ESRC also works collaboratively with six other UK research councils and Innovate UK to fund cross-disciplinary research and innovation addressing major societal challenges. The ESRC is an independent organisation, established by Royal Charter in 1965, and funded mainly by the Government. In 2015 it celebrates its 50th anniversary.
Latest News from
Economic and Social Research Council
UK joins forces with international experts to tackle global challenges09/08/2019 16:05:00
UK researchers and innovators will work with counterparts across the planet to tackle global challenges such as Ebola outbreaks, the impact of subpolar ocean currents on global climate, and the effect of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on society and individuals’ happiness and wellbeing following a major funding announcement.
Pre-announcement: ISCF Healthy Ageing Challenge Research Director and Social, Behavioural and Design Research Programme05/08/2019 15:25:00
UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has now announced its plan for delivering the Healthy Ageing Challenge, an investment of £98 million to enable businesses, including social enterprises, to develop and deliver products, services and business models that will be adopted at scale which support people as they age.
Winners of the ESRC 2019 Celebrating Impact Prize announced10/07/2019 14:33:00
Researchers whose work has made a real difference to society or the economy were celebrated at the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) annual Celebrating Impact Prize awards ceremony at the Royal Society on 9 July.
Productivity institute: expressions of interests invited10/07/2019 10:43:00
As part of the ESRC’s Transforming Productivity Research priority, expressions of interest are being invited from researchers at eligible research organisations to develop bids for a productivity institute.
Prime Minister announces cutting-edge modern slavery research centre10/07/2019 09:25:00
Modern slavery traps over 40 million people worldwide and costs the UK economy more than £3 billion a year. A new research centre, yesterday announced by the Prime Minister, will focus on prevention, victim recovery, supply chains and law enforcement to help put an end to this crime.
ESRC launches national consultation on leadership development27/06/2019 16:33:00
The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is delighted to launch its national consultation as part of the ‘Fit for the Future’ project.
ESRC announces extension of funding for the UK in a Changing Europe and nine new Senior Fellows19/06/2019 14:33:00
The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is delighted to announce additional funding of £3.19 million for the UK in a Changing Europe (UKICE) hub based at King’s College London and £4.3 million for nine new Senior Fellows for the UKICE initiative.
New ESRC Delivery Plan published11/06/2019 09:25:00
ESRC are pleased to announce the publication of our 2019 Delivery Plan. The ESRC Delivery Plan is part of a family of plans published yesterday by UKRI’s nine constituent councils.