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Key messages from research on child sexual exploitation: Commissioning health care services

This briefing paper is for commissioners of health services. It brings together key messages from research on child sexual exploitation (CSE) and should be read in conjunction with guidance for professionals.

Key messages

  • Child sexual exploitation can happen to young people from all backgrounds. Whilst young women are the majority of victims, boys and young men are also exploited.
  • Sexually exploited young people will access a broad range of healthcare in different settings, including sexual health, Accident and Emergency (A&E), walk-in centres, GPs, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and services for self-harm and drug and alcohol use.
  • Sexually exploited young people and those at risk should have easy access to services along health care pathways at the point of need.
  • Commissioners can undertake an audit of available services to check whether such points exist and to ensure that they are sufficient to meet demand
  • Local assessments of scale, evidence gathered for Joint Needs Assessments and problem profiles developed by the police will offer Commissioners a picture of the level of support that needs to be provided.
  • Commissioners can put in place measures that will encourage health professionals to view the young person holistically and to see beyond the presenting clinical issue
  • Commissioners can play a crucial role in ensuring that required standards are being met by making adequate resources available and championing good practice.
  • Investment in specialist services can yield financial benefits.
  • Health care professionals can contribute to multi-agency work to protect young people, identify patterns in abuse and disrupt perpetrators. Commissioners can play a role in assisting health staff balance maintaining confidentiality and safeguarding through this mechanism.
  • Commissioners of health services can play a wide-ranging role in prevention and early intervention: from promoting early identification of CSE through universal services to targeted opportunities.