Sexual exploitation and its impact on developing sexualities and sexual relationships: the need for contextual social work interventions
AffiliationUniversity of Bedfordshire
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AbstractThis article considers how young people’s developing sexualities are influenced by extra-familial social and cultural contexts, particularly in relation to experiences of sexual violence. It draws upon young people’s voices to illustrate the choices they make when they encounter, or engage with, exploitative contexts. Utilising the cumulative evidence base of our studies into sexual exploitation, trafficking and violence over the past ten years, we employ Bourdieu’s theory of the interplay between structure and agency to elucidate the relationship between young people’s choices and abusive social environments. When navigating or engaging with exploitative contexts, young people’s sexualities can be distorted through abusive normalising processes; coercive practices; professional attitudes which condone abuse; and/or structural inequalities that call for survivalist behaviours amongst young people. In exploring this social model of consent, we highlight the need to move beyond one to one (1:1) social work practices to engage with situations, contexts and relationships that disrupt young people’s developing sexualities. Such an adaptation of social work practice would adopt principles of ‘contextual safeguarding’ and we conclude by offering illustrations of interventions that have begun to explore this developmental pathway.
CitationFirmin C., Warrington C., Pearce J. (2016) 'Sexual exploitation and its impact on developing sexualities and sexual relationships: the need for contextual social work interventions', British Journal of Social Work, 46 (8), pp.2318-2337.
PublisherOxford University Press
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
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