The ‘Unprotected, Overprotected’ Child Sexual Exploitation and Learning Disabilities Training Programme.
Comic Relief commissioned Barnardos, BILD and Paradigm Research to develop a one day training programme to support professionals to improve responses to children and young people with learning disabilities who experience, or are at risk of, child sexual exploitation (CSE) that can be freely downloaded. This training will ensure that professionals are better informed about CSE and learning disabilities leading to improved multidisciplinary working and sharing of skills and knowledge.
You can download this overview as a document:
Children with learning disabilities are particularly vulnerable to CSE and face additional barriers to their protection and receiving appropriate support.
In 2014 Comic Relief commissioned the CSE and Learning Disabilities Consortium, consisting of Barnardo’s, BILD, Coventry University, Paradigm Research and The Children’s Society, to undertake a UK-wide research study to identify evidence-based learning to improve responses to children and young people with learning disabilities who experience, or are at risk of, CSE. These findings are presented in ‘Unprotected, overprotected: meeting the needs of young people with learning disabilities who experience, or are at risk of, sexual exploitation’ (Franklin, Raws & Smeaton, 2015). The full “Unprotected, overprotected” report can be downloaded from Barnardo’s’ website or from BILD’s website
Key research findings include the following:
- Children with learning disabilities are vulnerable to CSE due to factors that include overprotection, social isolation and a lack of education about relationships and sex.
- Many professionals lack awareness of the sexual exploitation of children with learning disabilities.
- Children with learning disabilities are often not considered specifically in local multi-agency arrangements for CSE.
- Children with learning disabilities face challenges in disclosing CSE that include not being believed or receiving negative responses from professionals.
- Many professionals identified the need for further support to enable them to fully meet the needs of this group of children.
- Professionals working to address CSE often lacked awareness of learning disabilities and those professionals working with children with learning disabilities often lacked understanding of CSE.
Development of the CSE and Learning Disability Training Programme
The training programme was piloted at an initial training event and then delivered by BILD and Paradigm Research at eight training events across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The training events, course content and materials were evaluated by participating professionals from both CSE and learning disability backgrounds. The training programme has been reviewed and adapted to address any identified issues in line with the feedback from participating professionals.
Aims of the ‘Unprotected, Overprotected’ training programme
- To deliver training drawn from the evidence-based learning from the 'Unprotected, Overprotected' report.
- To support professionals working with children with learning disabilities and their families who experience, or are at risk of, CSE to be better informed to meet the needs of this group
- To reduce 'working in professional silos.'
- To promote partnerships between child protection and learning disability professionals.
- To create a safe space where professionals can share their experiences of working with children with learning disabilities who experience, or are at risk of, CSE and learn from one another.
Presentations and activities
The one day’s training includes a mixture of taught elements and linked activities. This includes:
- Teaching by course trainers
- Whole group discussions
- Working as separate groups of CSE and learning disability professionals
- Working in 'buddy' groups of two or three drawn from the separate professional groups.
- Different 'buddy groups' working together
- Each participant completing an individual action plan during the course of the day.
Ideally, the training venue requires two rooms with a computer and projector in each together with flipchart stands, paper and pens. Most of the time will be spent in the main room together but the group will split for an hour session when those from a CSE background will be finding out about learning disabilities and those from a learning disability background will be learning about CSE.
The ‘Unprotected, Overprotected’ training programme
The programme consists of the following elements:
Main PowerPoint Programme Presentation
This PowerPoint presentation provides the programme format, information and activities for each of the four nations:
PowerPoint Presentation – Introduction to CSE
This presentation provides an introduction to CSE for the group of participants whose background is in learning disability:
PowerPoint Presentation – Introduction to Learning Disabilities
This presentation provides an introduction to learning disabilities for the group of participants whose background is in CSE/child protection:
The case studies that form part of the training programme are anonymised experiences shared by children and young people who participated in the ‘Unprotected, Overprotected’ research study.
It is recommended that Case Study 1 Lucy (Slide 14) is discussed initially in the Learning Disability and CSE groups prior to having a whole group discussion when the groups join together once more.
The four Disclosure Case Studies are available to be used as part of the ‘supporting disclosure of CSE’ section (slide 26).
The following handouts should be printed out and be available for distribution to course participants:
•Personal Action Plan [This is given to each participant at the start of the training programme and links to the learning and activities. Participants should be encouraged to complete it during the training and also use it to identify their ongoing developmental needs in the future.]