A lot going on: the links between going missing, forced marriage and child sexual exploitation
SubjectsL500 Social Work
child sexual exploitation
black and minority ethnic
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractAn extensive review of research and policy literature revealed that links are made between: going missing and forced marriage; going missing and child sexual exploitation; and forced marriage and child sexual exploitation. However, despite these overlaps, no links are made between all three issues. Given that some South Asian young women will run away from home in order to avoid being forced into marriage and that young people who run away or go missing from home are at risk of, or abused, through child sexual exploitation a research proposition was developed on the basis that a three way link was theoretically possible. A case study methodology was developed to test the research proposition. Eight cases were identified in which South Asian young people (under 18 years of age) had experienced some combination of all three issues. However, the pattern identified within the research proposition was not the ‘final explanation’. Analysis of the research findings revealed that variation existed within the pattern proposed. Moreover, a second pattern was identified in which forced marriage emerged as a parental response to young people who were already being sexually exploited and going missing in this context. The patterns identified were confirmed through analysis of interviews undertaken with twelve subject experts (key informants) and resonated with a specifically selected group of nine young people who were presented with a composite case study during focus group discussion. I argue that awareness of patterns linking all three issues will help practitioners to identify and respond appropriately to cases where the issues of going missing, forced marriage and child sexual exploitation overlap. That said the complexity of the cases highlighted risks associated with overlooking diversities: social divisions related to age, gender, ethnicity, class, sexuality and disability were explored to see how they shaped the young people’s experiences. This process revealed that they were located within complex axes of power which then intersected with social systems, including family, community and public institutions. As a consequence, young people lacked relational support and had limited access to safe accommodation and economic resources. This resulted in some young people making attempts to try and self-manage the competing harms that they were facing. The practitioners who supported the young people highlighted the challenges involved in working with them. Analysis of practitioners’ accounts further revealed how power dynamics within multi-agency working arrangements also impacted their efforts to respond to the needs of young people. Through testing the research proposition, I addressed a recognised need for more focused research into the issue of going missing as it relates to young people from different ethnic backgrounds (Berelowitz et al. 2012; Berelowitz et al., 2013; OCC, 2012; Patel, 1994; Safe on the Streets Research Team, 1999; Stein et al. 1994) as well as furthering knowledge about how child sexual exploitation is experienced by young people from black and minority ethnic (BME) communities (Chase & Statham, 2004; CEOP, 2011b; Jago et al., 2011; Berelowitz et al., 2013; Thiara & Gill, 2010; Kelly, 2013; Ward & Patel, 2006). The development of a typology of patterns linking going missing, forced marriage and child sexual exploitation provides a unique contribution to the scholarly literature.
CitationSharp-Jeffs, N.(2016) 'A lot going on: the links between going missing, forced marriage and child sexual exploitation'. Professional Doctorate thesis. University of Bedfordshire.
PublisherUniversity of Bedfordshire
TypeThesis or dissertation
Description“A thesis submitted to the University of Bedfordshire, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Professional Doctorate”.
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