Keeping children safe? Advancing social care assessments to address harmful sexual behaviour in schools
AffiliationUniversity of Bedfordshire
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AbstractInternational evidence suggests that schools are locations where systems, practices and cultures can enable harmful sexual behaviours. However, in England, welfare assessments primarily used by statutory social services largely target young people and their families, with limited capacity to assess environments beyond the home. Where young people display harmful sexual behaviours within educational settings, social care systems are yet to assess the factors within schools which may accelerate risks associated with harmful sexual behaviours. This exploratory article presents evidence on the opportunities for school assessment using cumulative learning from two studies. The first investigated enablers and barriers to addressing harmful sexual behaviour in schools. The second employed the learning from the first through an action research study to develop school context assessments within a child protection system. Both studies employed a mixed-methods approach including observations, case review, focus groups, surveys and policy reviews to access data. Synthesised findings highlight: the value of exploring school contexts when assessing the nature of extra-familial abuse; the opportunities and challenges of utilising research methods for assessing school environments; and the role new assessment frameworks could play in supporting the inclusion of school contexts, and research methods, into welfare assessments of extra-familial abuse.
CitationLloyd J, Walker J, Firmin C (2020) 'Keeping children safe? Advancing social care assessments to address harmful sexual behaviour in schools', Child and Family Social Work, 25 (4), pp.751-760.
JournalChild and Family Social Work
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