Last updated: 06.05.14

The Relational Safeguarding Model: best practice in working with families affected by child sexual exploitation

A new report is challenging the use of the traditional child protection model in safeguarding children from sexual exploitation (CSE). Pace, a national charity that works alongside families at risk or affected by CSE, states the child protection model is designed to respond to younger child abuse within the home through the assessment of parental and home circumstances and does not adapt well to teenage children and where the risk of abuse is external to the family.

The report suggests early intervention, and adopting the Relational Safeguarding Model when working with affected families will reduce the CSE risk factors for a child and maximise the ability of statutory agencies and parents to safeguard them.

The new model is designed to enable statutory agencies and affected families to:

  • Safeguard children
  • Respond to the specific emotional and relational dynamics of the ?grooming? of a victim by an external perpetrator and the impact on a family unit
  • Increase focus on early intervention and prevention of CSE
  • Increase prosecutions of perpetrators
  • Improve parent and family engagement with statutory agencies
  • Empower parents to provide long term support for the victim

In November 2013, a YouGov report Are parents in the picture? stated that 87% of police officers, social workers and teachers thought there were potential benefits to statutory agencies working in partnership with parents.

Throughout the report Pace seeks to provide evidence and practical guidance on how the relational safeguarding model and the employment of Independent Parent Support Workers in MASHs and multi-agency CSE hubs can prevent CSE and is critical to an intervention strategy for a child who is being sexually exploited respond.

Pace highlights the 2013 Barnardos report, Running from hate to what you think is love: the relationship between running away and child sexual exploitation (written by Emilie Smeaton) with regards to supporting parents and carers and the need to focus the blame for the abuse on the perpetrator and not on the victim?s family.

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