Legimate victimisation? how young people experience professional support and courts as victims of child exploitation
child exploitation and abuse
L500 Social Work
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AbstractThis thesis critically examines young people’s perceptions of support as victims and witnesses in Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) trials. This includes their views of support when disclosing the abuse, during the investigation phase, on the journey to court, in court and post court. My thesis is framed within the respondents’ experiences of negative and positive support provided to them when engaging with welfare and criminal justice agencies. This research presents empirical data drawn from in-depth qualitative interviews with 11 young people, 3 males and 8 females, who were under 16 years of age at trial. It answers the central research question of: How do Young People Experience Professional Support and Court as Victims of Child Sexual Exploitation? The theoretical framework used to analyse the data was critical realist and grounded theory. From those perspectives the respondents’ individual accounts are reviewed, then compared with all respondents’ views. From the synthesised data, theories emerged that explained the respondents’ subjective, real-world and empirical view of their experiences. The theories that emerged from the respondent data included gender inequality, disclosure, labelling theory and children’s rights issues identified through power imbalance between professionals and victims as service users and intimidated, vulnerable victims. The thesis set out to determine whether after nearly 30 years of challenge to improve child victim support, there have been improvements in practice with child victims of abuse, who must engage with welfare services and the criminal justice system. These respondents have spoken of their rights as a victim being circumvented and their explicit needs and wishes being overlooked. As a result, some have suffered anxiety and trauma, often perceived as a direct result of professional action or inaction. The thesis incorporates findings, set around the theories that emerged from the data. Findings include information about disclosure experiences, communication and contact with professionals within the criminal justice system and experiences of the adversarial court system. The thesis then moves on to discuss unexpected findings related to levels of selfharm amongst the respondent group and the impact of media and social media commentary on victims. The thesis concludes with recommendations for change to policy and welfare and criminal justice practice to improve support to these vulnerable and intimidated victims. My hope is that these findings will contribute to balancing the rights of child victims and add to the existing body of literature to better understand and improve support to adolescent victims of sexual exploitation.
CitationMacDonald, M. (2018) 'Legimate victimisation? how young people experience professional support and courts as victims of child exploitation'. PhD thesis. University of Bedfordshire.
PublisherUniversity of Bedfordshire
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted to the University of Bedfordshire, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
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