Understanding and reporting of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)

Insight to support the development of a communication campaign.

Read more about it below

The brief

Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a priority issue for Cambridgeshire Constabulary, as they are dealing with an increasing number of such cases. In 2016 they dealt with 191 cases, a rise of 36% compared to the previous year.

Cambridgeshire Constabulary had undertaken previous work on this issue, including an awareness raising campaign. They wanted to build on and strengthen this work to reach out to vulnerable young people in the county who are at risk, and to their parents or guardians.

Cambridgeshire Constabulary commissioned Social Change UK to undertake research with younger children, older children and parents in Cambridgeshire to explore their understanding and awareness of CSE. The insights from this research will inform a refreshed communication campaign aimed at reaching out to vulnerable young people who are at risk and to their parents or guardians, to ensure that they are aware of the signs and report any concerns to the police or partner agencies.

Report

What we did

We conducted qualitative research across Cambridgeshire with younger children, older children and parents, as the target audience group. Initially, the geographical areas of Cambridgeshire with high rates of CSE reporting were identified, based on data provided by Cambridgeshire Constabulary.

We then took a targeted approach to carry out two focus groups with children; one with children aged 11 to 12 and one with children aged 14 to 16 years old, in these areas with high rates of CSE reporting.

During the focus group sessions, we wanted to explore children’s understanding and recognition of signs of exploitation, and to explore their attitudes and decision making when presented with hypothetical scenarios of possible exploitation. Techniques such as storytelling and hypothetical placement ensured that we could safely explore their thinking and understanding of the topic. In addition, we also tested out the previous CSE campaign run by Cambridgeshire Constabulary to understand what the campaign messaging should be and what could be improved.

Following the research with children, we undertook in-depth telephone interviews with parents and guardians across Cambridgeshire.

Through these telephone interviews, we sought to explore their understanding and recognition of signs of exploitation, and to understand what they felt the barriers are to reporting concerns to the police or partner agencies. These telephone interviews allowed us to again test out the previous CSE campaign run by Cambridgeshire Constabulary, to understand what the campaign messages should be to raise awareness and encourage parents to report concerns.

Report

What we found

This research provided us with a mixture of insights to support the development of future campaigns to effectively reach and communicate with both parents and children on this issue. Although awareness of CSE warning signs were consistent across children and parents, it was clear that different communication approaches were needed for both groups. Schools emerged as a key stakeholder in raising awareness for both groups.

Children preferred to have a professional attend their school to deliver small workshops on CSE. They also felt that school support staff were their preferred route to report concerns.

Parents expressed a desire for materials that raise awareness of digital products, such as apps and social media platform, and the risks associated with them. They explained that these resources should be provided by the police and distributed by schools to advise parents of CSE signs.

Feedback from both children and parents on the previous CSE campaign indicated that the whole campaign narrative needs to be shown together to ensure that the campaign messages are fully understood.

In addition, feedback from participants revealed that clear communication routes to report concerns and a clear call to action are needed on how people should contact the police if they have concerns.