The DH and PHE have created a pathway to help school nurses identify children at risk of sexual exploitation.
It aims to help practitioners recognise child sexual exploitation and understand its effects on health and wellbeing. Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is defined as a broad range of sexual violence and abuse within both physical and virtual environments. It falls within the category of sexual abuse, usually occurs outside the family, and involves the young person being used for sexual purposes for financial or non-monetary gain.
The pathway was developed by Betsy Allen, the professional lead for school nursing in Devon, and Michael Fanner, a PhD student at the faculty of education and health at the University of Greenwich, alongside a small task group.
The pathway identifies the groups of children that are more vulnerable to CSE including those with learning difficulties, low self-esteem and those who are bisexual or homosexual.
'[School nurses] can inform young people of the risks of CSE, pick up its early signs, alert specialist safeguarding services and, within a multi-agency context, give on-going support to children who are victims and sometimes perpetrators of child sexual abuse,' said Ms Allen.
'CSE can have a devastating impact on a child's life and early intervention is key. As both a doctoral researcher in CSE and a specialist community public health nurse, I felt I had a unique contribution to make in bridging the gap between understanding issues in practice, as well as utilising the existing research-base I had gathered as part of my doctoral study.'