Tackling Child Exploitation
We are grateful to the wide range of national stakeholders who contributed to developing the Principles and to the over 750 professionals from across England who took part in consultation sessions, provided examples, offered feedback and supported every stage of development. The following supporting statements have been provided by key stakeholders and reflect the wide-ranging context of responding to child exploitation and extra-familial harm.
“We know that sadly very many children are exploited and harmed outside the home. It was for this reason that the focus of the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel’s first national review was on children who are criminally exploited. These Practice Principles were commissioned by the Department for Education, in response, in part, to our recommendations. We know from reviews of serious safeguarding incidents that a sea change is required not only in how professionals work together but, very critically, also in the way that children are seen, helped and protected.
“Reviews have evidenced how the adultification of children, and especially Black children, too often undermines their right to be protected from harm. Child-centred practice requires strong acknowledgement of the impact of racial and gender bias on professional decision-making; it also means valuing the voices, views and strengths of children, parents and communities. This involves challenging ourselves to think, learn and work differently, wherever we work and whatever our roles.”
Annie Hudson, Chair
“These practice principles are firmly rooted in the experiences of children and young people, their parents and carers as well as the range of professionals working alongside them when experiencing terrible abuses and exploitation outside of the family home. They present a helpful focal point for safeguarding partners at a strategic level while the supporting resources offer necessary prompts plus practical tools for frontline staff to be alert to the different ways trauma can manifest as well as inequalities, exclusion and discrimination in their work in communities.”
Sara Tough, Chair of the Families, Communities and Young People Policy Committee
“It is important that the response from professionals to children experiencing extra-familial harm is effective and well-coordinated. We welcome the development of these practice principles to support all those working with children, from strategic leaders to front line staff.”
Yvette Stanley, National Director for social care and regulation
“I am delighted to welcome these Practice Principles for responding to extra-familial harm and exploitation. This can be a complex and challenging area where collaboration between different professionals, including social workers, police officers, health professionals, youth justice workers and teachers, is crucial. These Principles encourage a shared understanding of the core behaviours, values and approaches which underpin an effective response to keeping children safe.
The Principles bring together learning from the Department for Education’s Tackling Child Exploitation Support programme, the best available research and expertise from professionals, and children and parents/carers with lived experience. Social workers will recognise many familiar elements within the Practice Principles that reflect core social work skills, ethics and theories. These include strengths-based practice, recognising and respecting the voice, experiences and rights of the child, and the need for approaches to be curious, evidence-informed and collaborative.
The Principles sit well alongside the government’s recently announced reforms to children’s social care, which aim to provide the right support at the right time so that children can thrive with their families, and to strengthen multi-agency working. We have drawn on the Practice Principles to inform the Children’s Social Care National Framework, which is now out for consultation. This describes the outcomes that children’s social care should achieve for children, young people and families.
I encourage all practitioners, managers and leaders to use these Practice Principles to guide their response to extra-familial harm and exploitation so that, collectively, we can ensure the children and families facing these devastating harms are supported and stay safe.”
Isabelle Trowler, Chief Social Worker
“These Practice Principles offer all those working with and for children and young people a way to ensure their approach to tackling child exploitation and extra-familial harm is rooted in evidence and the lived experiences of children, young people, parents, carers and professionals.
“The Independent Review of Children’s Social Care last year highlighted the need to improve our response to child exploitation. These Principles provide a helpful framework against which to test, develop and continually improve practice across safeguarding partners, at both a strategic and operational level, ultimately improving how we support and protect children and young people in our communities.”
“These practice principles are a welcome guide to a very complex area of practice where close multiagency working becomes even more essential and important. I am delighted to see core social work values inherent in these practice principles, very much linked to the professional standards on which the social work profession is based and is regulated, helping to ensure protection of the public.
Social workers, as part of being a regulated profession, must demonstrate their ongoing fitness to practice, with up to date knowledge, skills and behaviours. This places the importance of continuing to learn through one’s professional journey at the heart of social work practice and is well reflected in the “be curious, evidence informed and knowledgeable” practice principle. I look forward to seeing the impact that the principles will have.”
Sarah Blackmore, Executive director, Professional Practice and External Engagement
“We welcome the development of practice principles to enable effective work with children who are experiencing extra-familial harm and those who are being exploited or are at risk of exploitation”
Andrea Brazier, Head of Youth Inspection Programme
“The development of these practice principles to support effective partnership working to better respond to children at risk of child exploitation and extra-familial harm is welcomed.”
Wendy Williams, His Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary
“The YJB welcomes the publication of the Practice Principles to address child exploitation and extra-familial harm. The children impacted by exploitation and extra-familial harm are often the same children who are later drawn into the youth justice system through these experiences. The more that can be done to prevent this chain of events from occurring the better for both the children affected and society as a whole.
Whilst the language used may differ slightly, the Practice Principles closely align to what we describe as our Child First principle. This too advocates a strengths-based approach, involving children’s participation, recognising structural barriers faced and most importantly, understanding and putting children first. Given both sets of principles have been independently compiled through independent scrutiny of the evidence base this should offer the reader additional reassurance of the conclusions reached and that these principles offer the best way of addressing the issues at hand”
Jamie Bennett, Chief Strategy Officer
“Greater Manchester Police are dedicated and have an invested approach to working with all our partners in ensuring that we support all our young persons.
This is evidenced in our co-located teams across Manchester where our specialist officers work together with our partners sharing information on a daily basis to ensure that young persons are protected.
The principles outlined within this document is something the force believes in and adheres too in our approach to exploitation.”
“Greater Manchester’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) addresses the underlying causes of violence and works with communities to prevent it. Keeping children and young people safe is at the centre of this work, and the reason why it is so important.
“In Greater Manchester and nationally, partners are working hard to implement a young person focused response to violence. The Practice Principles provide professionals with a framework to better respond to child exploitation and extra-familial harm, and will ensure effective partnership working and consistency among all organisations working with children and young people.
“Using the Practice Principles will support the development of more creative responses to child exploitation and extra-familial harm, and aid VRU’s and partners across the country in understanding and preventing violence.”
Damian Dallimore, Greater Manchester Violence Reduction Unit Director and Assistant Director (Police, Crime, Fire and Criminal Justice)
“The TCE principles provide clear and streamlined guidelines for all those who work both directly and indirectly with children, young people and their families, within different roles and across various sectors. They provide a much needed safeguard against the deficit discourse which can all too often occur when supporting those who are victims of child exploitation.
These principles will be invaluable for governing boards who are responsible for setting the strategic direction and culture within their schools as well as playing a key role on exclusion panels.”
Fiona Fearon, policy and projects manager
“We welcome this new initiative, which aims to improve integrated working between all professionals in the children’s workforce to better protect children and young people, particularly those in vulnerable, at-risk groups. All staff who come into contact with children, young people and their families have a responsibility to safeguard and promote their welfare and should know what to do if they have concerns about a child or young person. We know from devastating past experiences that when integration and communication are not present between professionals, children in difficult circumstances can slip under the radar and come to harm.
Paediatrician’s will recognise many of the principles outlined in this initiative, and many will already practice these regularly in their day-to-day work. A shared set of principles across the children’s workforce, particularly in response to the complex issue of child exploitation and extra-familial harm, will help to guide local areas in addressing the unique and diverse challenges presented by child exploitation.”
Dr Alison Steele, Officer for Child Protection
“These eight Practice Principles form a strong base on which to build the good practice within our schools. Oasis Community Learning is passionate about supporting our young people and staff to develop their character, their competence, and to embrace their wider community, and so we fully embrace the Principles in helping us to shape our safeguarding approach. Sharing the key principles for tackling child exploitation between all partner agencies helps to provide a safer environment for the children within our communities.“
Jon Needham, National Director of Safeguarding and NAASA member
“Catch22 have worked to support children at risk of exploitation for the past decade. Over that time, we have developed a Risk & Resilience approach informed by our core values, our experience and insight, but most importantly by the voices of the children and young people we support. It has been really good to work alongside the TCE Programme over the past year to amplify the voices of those children and young people, to whom we are hugely indebted.
Guiding principles can so often be implicit and assumed, which means we sometimes unwittingly depart from best practice because we don’t keep those principles in sight. We welcome the TCE Practice Principles because they articulate and make explicit the basis for all effective, sensitive and person-centred support. All of us would benefit by revisiting these principles and examining our practice through this lens.”
Sarah Parker, Research and Development Officer
“We welcome the Principles being developed in the spirit of collaboration, with a wide range of professionals across the sector and children young people and families contributing as well as them being informed by key research.
We particularly welcome that the principles are relevant to all children and are underpinned by a recognition of the interconnected conditions of abuse and that their key aim is to support coherent collaborative and creative responses to child exploitation that are flexible to meet local needs.“
Sheila Taylor (MBE), CEO
“TCE’s multi-agency Practice Principles for responding to child exploitation and extra-familial harm facilitate a whole system approach to supporting children, young people and families. The Principles offer a ‘ways of working’ guide to anyone including youth workers who are involved in responding to child exploitation and harm outside the home.
From their starting point of relationship-based approaches, youth workers can build links and trust between young people and other professionals whilst advocating on their behalf. We hope the Practice Principles will enable other professionals who make up the multi-agency safeguarding landscape to collaborate and recognise youth work and its role in this wider system. It is this aligned approach that demonstrates the potential for effective partnerships across a range of agencies, in order to tackle exploitation whilst providing safe and effective support for young people.”
Xyna Prasad, Safeguarding Hub Manager
“Redthread empowers young people to thrive as they navigate the challenging transition to adulthood by integrating trauma-informed youth work into the health sector. We are thankful to the Tackling Child Exploitation (TCE) Support Programme for the opportunity to share our learning in the development of the Principles of Practice. The Principles offer a welcome shared framework to help to achieve better collaboration, safeguarding and outcomes for children and young people at risk of, or experiencing, extra-familial harm or exploitation.”
“We know from our direct work across the UK that children and young people need protection from exploitation – and victims need access to specialist support so they can recover from trauma and rebuild their lives. We wholeheartedly support these principles, which align closely with Barnardo’s ways of working and draw on the lived experiences of children, young people, parents and carers. We hope they will assist professionals to protect and support children effectively, helping to prevent harm.”
Lynn Perry (MBE), CEO
“Having central to the principles the experiences of children and young people as well as parents and carers is so crucial in developing and improving practice when responding to extra-familial harm. Too often families feel excluded, devalued and isolated when they find themselves in the devastating situation of their child being abused. The principles give clear value to the important and crucial role parents have in safeguarding, demonstrating being child-focused doesn’t mean excluding the family. Pace (Parents Against Child Exploitation) has been supporting affected parents for over 25 years and we know when families have an equitable relationship with practitioners, the long-term outcomes for those families are brighter, enhanced, and significantly improved.”
Lindsay Dalton, CEO
“The 1989 Children Act provided a set of clear principles of how we should work alongside and listen to children and young people in our safeguarding and supporting them. Almost 35 years later some of our most under-served and vulnerable young people, those that are sexually and criminally exploited, are re-setting those principles for our current context. They are, through this framework, asking us to work alongside them on solutions, show how we care and respect them, work with hope in ways that are informed and trauma responsive – in short – do better.
With the recent IICSA report and children’s testimony of how they have felt marginalised and ignored in safeguarding systems, we have a real opportunity to respond and work differently – making sure that children can rely and trust in the relationships we form and the systems we operate in. I welcome these practice principles as a tool to help me remember why I came to work in such a challenging field and how I want to continue to make a positive impact. “
Amanda Naylor (OBE), Chief Executive
Download the Practice Principles document to explore what this means for professionals, and how to develop your approach to tackling child exploitation.
Do you have insights into a wicked issue in responding to child exploitation? Or a view on the challenges and barriers the Practice Principles need to address? We would love to hear from you!
Please use this open response feedback form to share your perspective. TCE will consider these responses alongside our more structured consultation methods, such as our events and surveys.
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