Safeguarding Children & Young People from Harm Outside of the Home
Children & Young People can experience harm and abuse within their families, as well as outside of their homes, within their communities, peer groups and online. This might include exploitation, serious violence and peer to peer abuse. These harms are child abuse. Children are never responsible for their own abuse. Partners in Lambeth are committed to continuously improve our responses to children & young people at risk out of the harm. Information, resources and links on this page will be updated regularly.
How are young people harmed outside the home?
What is Child Sexual Exploitation?
When a child or young person is sexually exploited they're given things, like gifts, drugs, money, status and affection, in exchange for performing sexual activities. Children & young people may be tricked into believing they're in a loving and consensual relationship. This is called grooming. They may trust their abuser and not understand that they're being abused.
Types of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)
CSE can happen online and in person. An abuser might gain the child's trust and use violence, manipulation and threats to control them. Children and young people have reported that they thought their abuser cared about them. They may have shared sexually explicit images or been recorded engaging in sexual activity - only for the abuser to use this material to blackmail and control them.
Spotting the Signs
Going missing from home or care. This might involve returning late or not returning overnight
Avoiding or missing school or college
Unexplained new possessions, money, or access to drugs, alcohol or even fast food
New bank accounts, a frozen bank account or unexplained deposits
Multiple phones, constant calls or messages that the young person is anxious to miss
Sudden change in mood, behaviour, friendship groups & activities
Repeated sexually transmitted infections
Having marks or injuries on their bodies which they try to conceal. These might be physical signs of abuse, like bruises or bleeding in their genital or anal area
Becoming withdrawn, worried & anxious
Uncharacteristic outbursts of anger
Becoming anxious, hyper-vigilant and worried about their safety
Becoming secretive about where they're going or who they're spending time with
An intense attachment to a new area or group of peers, this may include online spaces
Coming to Police attention
Responding to Contextual Harm
Build an effective relationship with the young person
Every interaction is an intervention: be trauma-informed
We do not blame children for their own abuse. Use language that reflects this
Work together to identify & assess risk & strengths
Work with partners to make locations & peer groups safer
Create a Safety Plan with the young person, their family, and other professionals
Ensure there is a plan to disrupt any exploitation
Find the right service, at the right time
Explore creative solutions - and get help when needed
Never stop learning, & never, ever give up hope
Make time to really listen to really the young person. They are the expert of their experience
Find a way to connect - from food, to sports or music
Build trust. Be transparent about your concerns and your work. Do what you say you will. Avoid overpromising.
Prioritise physical, psychological and emotional safety. Ask what someone needs to feel safe.
Those who have experienced trauma may feel powerless to control what happens to them. Work to empower them.
Reflect on own experiences & biases & how systems & processes can perpetuate oppression. Recognise & address power dynamics.
When talking about young people & exploitation, language matters. It can be the difference between a child being properly safeguarded or put at further risk of exploitation.
Download the Children's Society Language Toolkit.
Use the Safety Plan template to support a young person to reflect on situations they may feel unsafe in. How do they know they feel unsafe? What are the physical signs?
There are several practical steps that families, young people, and professionals can take to safety plan. Use this helpful parent/carer leaflet.
Call a Professionals' meeting for young adults or a Strategy meeting for a child to agree a multiagency plan
Refer to the Contextual Safeguarding Service for support. Use this form to refer to Lambeth's Multiagency Violence & Exploitation (MAVE) panel to escalate concerns
Refer to the Harmful Sexual Behaviour Forum, or Young People Who Harm Others Forum for clinical input (details coming soon)
Use the Home Office's disruption toolkit to explore the tools and tactics you can use with partners to disrupt exploitation.
For specialist advice for a young person, please email Colin Newman, Lambeth's Exploitation Disruption Manager
Lambeth is fortunate to have a diverse range of services and interventions to support young people at risk of contextual harm. Check out the service directory below.