Developing contextual responses to the abuse and exploitation of young people



Last updated: 24 Mar 2019

As practitioners adopt more contextual approaches to assessment they generate an increased knowledge of the peer group, school, neighbourhood and online contexts where young people are experiencing significant harm. When these contexts are identified children’s social care and the wider safeguarding partnerships they work with will require interventions that are designed (and measured) to change the nature of these contexts. To date most interventions that have been commissioned or funded to address the risk, or experiences, of abuse are designed to work with individual young people and sometimes with their families. When risk is assessed contextually a need is created for interventions that address peer group dynamics, disrupt harmful norms and practices in schools or that can reach into communities, neighbourhoods and public spaces. Interventions could include bystander approaches to violence prevention, the creation of increased community guardianship, improved access to street-based activities, detached work and outreach and interventions designed to improve policies, practices and procedures within schools, sports clubs and other universal services.

The resources on the network provide commissioners with some ideas about the types of interventions that have been developed, or may be required to address or prevent risks within peer groups, schools, neighbourhoods and online. These include: interventions within shopping centres, schools and transport providers; multi-agency practices designed to support families affected by extra-familial risk, and; advocacy work for young people which galvanises services to create safer spaces for those young people to be.

Particular resources that are targeted at a commissioning and funding audience can be found below.


The individual and contextual characteristics of young people who sexually harm in groups: A briefing on the findings from a study in four London boroughs

Dr Carlene Firmin with Dr Jenny Lloyd

This briefing presents the findings of a study into the contextual profiles of young people suspected of displaying harmful sexual behaviours (HSB) in groups and/or on their own. In a period when peer-on-peer abuse, sexual violence in schools and responses to young people affected by sexual abuse are high on the public and policy agenda, this briefing provides a timely contribution towards deepening how HSB is understood and in addition, ensuring that the provision of services is sufficient for safeguarding young people.


Engagement of community, specialist and voluntary organisations

Carlene Firmin with George Curtis, Danielle Fritz, Paul Olaitan, Lia Latchford, Jenny Lloyd and Ikamara Larasi

This extract from the report 'Towards a Contextual Response to Peer-on-Peer Abuse: Research and Resources from MsUnderstood local site work 2013-2016' highlights researchers' work with community, voluntary and specialist organisations in the response to peer-on-peer abuse. The extract discusses a train-the-trainer programme, a study on detached youth work provision and building awareness and partnerships amongst community sector provision. If you would like a copy of the slides or editable copies of the resources within this extract, then Contact Us.


Young people who sexually harm peers in groups: A rapid evidence assessment of international literature

Lia Latchford with Carlene Firmin, Danielle Fritz and Simon Hackett

This literature review was conducted to develop an evidence base on young people who sexually harm in groups, by synthesising existing literature on group harmful sexual behaviour (HSB), wider group offending and group interventions


The role of detached youth work in creating safety for young people in public spaces

Danielle Fritz with Carlene Firmin and Paul Olaitan

This briefing paper discusses the benefits and limitations of detached youth work provision in creating safety for young people in public spaces.

Detached youth work

Belen Bueso-Alberdi (Targeted Youth Worker, London Borough of Barnet) and Danielle Fritz discuss intervening in young people's social spaces through detached youth work in this video. For more information, please see our briefing on detached youth work provision.

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