Young People and Sexual Exploitation: 'It's Not Hidden, You Just Aren't Looking', 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Young People and Sexual Exploitation

'It's Not Hidden, You Just Aren't Looking', 1st Edition

By Jenny J. Pearce


184 pages

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Work with sexually exploited young people can be rewarding yet difficult. They can be hard to access, often presenting challenging behaviour. Sometimes it is painful to hear their life stories, whether these include abuse through the Internet or exploitation experienced through having been trafficked into and within the country.

Jenny J. Pearce draws on young people’s voices to explore the difficulties that arise for researchers and for practitioners when working with sexually exploited young people. While child protection interventions must guide social work, she argues that other agencies such as health, education, housing and training each have a role to play in supporting a sexually exploited young person.

Challenging the uncritical acceptance of the child as victim, the book suggests ‘therapeutic outreach’ as an approach to working with sexually exploited young people that can complement child protection procedures, support practitioners in the field and enhance the young person’s sense of autonomy and responsibility during their transition to adulthood. The book advocates the relationship between practitioners and the young people they aim to support to be one of the most important resources in practice.

Young People and Sexual Exploitation will be essential reading for anyone interested in preventing the sexual exploitation of children and young people. It will be particularly relevant for academics, students, practitioners and policymakers in the fields of social policy and social work, child and family work, child protection and youth work.


'Jenny Pearce has produced a marvellous book which is readable and encyclopaedic in its coverage of policy, practice and research. This book should be essential reading for everybody working with young people but especially for those providing services in CAMHS, education and health.' - Lorraine Radford, Head of Research, NSPCC

'This is an important overview which throws much needed light on a hidden social problem. The dilemmas faced by practitioners, services and researchers are sympathetically identified. I welcome the call for more attention to be paid to meeting the emotional and mental health needs of a group of young people who can seem too difficult and challenging. Jenny Pearce shows however that, with exceptional skill and patience, youth workers and others may be able to help stop them dropping out of sight.' - Susanne MacGregor, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK

‘As a comprehensive review of a wide range of issues in relation to the sexual exploitation of children and young people it is perfect for readers new to the subject. At the same time, it is complex and thought-provoking and has lots to offer people who already have significant knowledge and experience of this topic. The emphasis on young people’s own perspectives ensures that debate never becomes esoteric. ' - Kevin Lowe, Co-Director, Young People in Focus

'In offering a more subtle, complex and social analysis of the issues – including the policy context which shapes the lives of young people in the UK in the twenty-first century and young people’s resilience – Pearce’s contribution is sure to provide academics and researchers with a new way to think about the issues and policy makers with a new foundation on which to intervene. This is a must read.' - Jo Phoenix, Durham University, UK

Table of Contents

Introduction Part 1. Sexual Exploitation: Theoretical Frameworks 1. Sexual Exploitation: Child Prostitution or Child Protection? 2. Current Policy and Practice: Achievements and Limitations 3. The Trafficking of Children and Young People: Implications for Work with Sexually Exploited Children and Young People 4. Adolescents in Violent Partnerships (AVP): Child Abuse and Domestic Violence? Part 2. Interventions: Practice Issues in Work with Sexually Exploited Young People 5. Risk and Resilience 6. Doing Research in the Field of Sexual Exploitation 7. Young People’s Participation 8. Therapeutic Outreach

About the Author

Jenny. J. Pearce is Professor of Young People and Public Policy at the University of Bedfordshire; Director of the International Centre for the Study of Sexually Exploited and Trafficked Children and Young People; and co-founder/ member of the National Working Group for Sexually Exploited Children and Young People.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MEDICAL / Allied Health Services / General
MEDICAL / Nursing / General
MEDICAL / Nursing / Mental Health