Report: Working with parents to safeguard children from Child Sexual Exploitation

Parents Speak Out – a report developed by parents from the Parent Action Group within Pace (Parents against child sexual exploitation) – explores the current and potential role of parents as partners in the safeguarding process to protect children from Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE).

Although there have been recent changes and progress in tackling CSE, the crucial contribution of parents in safeguarding a child at risk of sexual abuse and violence outside the home is still largely unacknowledged in the national approach to CSE. Parents are not the sexual abusers of their exploited child but they go through a statutory system where they are treated as such.

The term Child Sexual Exploitation refers specifically to extra-familial abuse. The risks and abusers are located outside the child’s home although the impact of the abuse will be felt within it. These differences are still not acknowledged in the current child protection framework. The effect is often that parents are blamed for the abuse rather than the perpetrator and so a valuable resource in opposing CSE is disempowered.

Despite good practice in some areas, there appear to be barriers to effectively involving parents and many parents are excluded from playing their full role in safeguarding their child. The report calls for improved engagement with parents in order to address this.

Parents are likely to be the first to identify signs that something is wrong with their child. However, they often do not know how to recognise these as the warning signs of CSE and there is a need for better education and information provision to address this.

Download the open access report (PDF file, 800KB).