Potential impediments to the recognition of the sexual exploitation of young males under 18
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AbstractA growing body of research has shown that the discourse on child sexual exploitation (CSE) continues to be female-centric despite some attempts to raise the plight of young males as victims of this phenomenon. This thesis addresses this gap by examining the potential impediments to the recognition of CSE in young males under the age of 18. The central focus of this study is to identify barriers to disclosure by young males and inhibitors to identification by professionals, encompassing an exploration of the existence of any relationship between the two. The research took the form of a mixed methods approach, obtaining both quantitative and qualitative data from young people and a range of professionals. This consisted of: 91 respondents to a survey for professionals; 1,158 respondents to a survey for young people; 10 interviews with young males; and 30 interviews with professionals. The study is underpinned by the theoretical framework of ecological systems theory, supporting the notion that the sexual exploitation of young males as a phenomenon is not simply a manifestation of the individual male victim operating in a vacuum, but contextual to the prevalence and impact of other factors. This allows for the integration of all levels of human ecology, including the environment and diverse cultural contexts, as responsible for the cause of and solution to the problem. Application of this theory was facilitated by using Sorsoli et al’s (2008) three domains model as a practical framework, enabling examination of barriers to recognition within each of the systems (or domains) at play, and the interplay between them, demonstrating the complexities surrounding the recognition of this phenomenon. This study concludes that there is both commonality and dissonance between the views of young people and what we already understand from the Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) literature relating to the non-recognition of males as victims. The findings challenge the actual stereotypical assumptions regarding males and masculinity believed to inhibit recognition of males as victims. The findings also reveal a level of dissonance between the views of young people and professionals regarding the relevance of barriers to recognition of CSE in young males. These findings present safeguarding implications. They underscore the importance of recognising the role of gender constructs and socialisation in the negating of males as victims of CSE, but more importantly, how they may be manifested. This adds unique complications to the process of both disclosure and identification of CSE in males. The implications of this for the interpretation and application of CSE policies and procedures to the identification of young males as victims, is significant. The results of this study call for the sexual exploitation of young males to be placed firmly in the child protection arena, providing a basis upon which the young male, the professional, and the wider social system can understand the position of responsibilities in relation to recognition of CSE in males, thereby achieving greater equilibrium in recognition of the two genders as victims of CSE.
CitationMontgomery-Devlin, J. (2018) 'Potential impediments to the recognition of the sexual exploitation of young males under 18'. 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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