This exploratory research study aimed to increase understanding of how to meet the needs of children and young people with learning disabilities who experience, or are at risk of, CSE. Specifically, the research undertook to:
- scope and detail current provision, including the scale of interventions for this group of children and young people
- explore the views of practitioners, managers and local and national policymakers around practice, looking into both enablers of and barriers to good practice
- understand the needs of this group of children and young people and gather their views on current practice
- identify gaps in policy, provision, evidence and research
- generate evidence-based recommendations for future developments to meet these children and young people’s needs.
It warns that a low level of understanding of learning disabilities can prevent social workers from properly protecting children from sexual exploitation.
Recommendations from young people
To prevent young people with learning disabilities from experiencing, or being at risk of, CSE, and to improve support, the young people identified four key areas where improvements could be made:
- Education and information on sex and relationships and exploitation
- Earlier, child-centred general support for young people so that issues do not escalate and create risk; this includes being listened to by professionals
- Support to meet their speci c learning needs
- Access to more CSE services.
Read the summary report released by Bardardo’s: Children with learning disabilities at risk of sexual exploitation
Full report released by Barnardo’s: Unprotected, overprotected
Practice guide: Supporting professionals to meet the needs of young people with learning disabilities who experience, or are at risk of, child sexual exploitation
England briefing: Unprotected, overprotected: meeting the needs of young people with learning disabilities who experience, or are at risk of, sexual exploitation
Community Care article: How social workers can protect children with learning disabilities from sexual exploitation
Research in Practice: Involving young people in responding to CSE