YOUNG people at risk of harm, sexual exploitation and abuse have contributed to a new resource for professionals and practitioners.

checkyourthinking.org, developed from Cardiff University research, brings together resources and materials created from research and partnership work with young people, as well as foster carers, and social care and allied professionals.

It builds on the outcomes of research led by Dr Sophie Hallett in the Keeping Safe? report which used case records to track a cohort of 205 children involved with social services in one Welsh local authority, alongside involvement from young people, social workers, foster carers and residential workers.

The website, launched on July 1, will premiere a new animated film developed in partnership with young people from Voices from Care and is a way of letting young people know that they have been heard, that their voices have contributed to new policy and that support is available.

New Welsh Government Child Sexual Exploitation guidance has sought to address the challenges raised in the Keeping Safe? research with a renewed focus on identifying and addressing the care and support needs of children and young people.

Dr Sophie Hallett, Senior Lecturer in Social Policy at Cardiff University’s School of Social Sciences, said: “The young people involved in our research perhaps didn’t have the best experience, so it was important to them to know that they could make a change for others. 

“Being involved in the development of the resources and the website is a way of marking the cultural shift in children’s safeguarding in policy and practice that have come about because they’ve spoken out.

“The Keeping Safe report showed that, in the main, carers, practitioners and professionals supporting young people know what needs to happen to do that well. So, this is not us telling them what they need to change.

“Instead, we’ve called it check your thinking because it’s about taking that moment to pause, reflect, discuss and share thinking and these tools and resources on the website can help with thinking about how to best support young people who are experiencing harm, abuse and exploitation.

“So, I’m hoping that it’s going to be a really useful website for practitioners and by degrees, young people.”

Dr Hallett’s research found that key messages about support, responses, challenges and dilemmas related as much to the wider context of safeguarding and for young people in general, as they did to specific responses to child sexual exploitation.

Flashcards, posters and videos are also hosted on the site, to support practitioners and to share messages from carers and a range of professionals about the challenges and dilemmas involved in safeguarding and wider practice context and culture.

Dr Hallett added: “I think this new guidance and the materials to help support that is a marker point moment. 

“It’s an opportunity for people from different practice and caring backgrounds to come together for discussion and reflection focusing on children’s rights in a child- and young person-centred way.”
Keeping Safe? 

An analysis of the outcomes of work with sexually exploited young people in Wales was funded by the Welsh Government through Health and Care Research Wales.

Visit checkyourthinking.org to find out more.