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    The Role of Alcohol in Child Sexual Exploitation: Developing a model to inform practice

    Oyston, Jane Elizabeth (2023) The Role of Alcohol in Child Sexual Exploitation: Developing a model to inform practice. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.


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    Alcohol has been linked repeatedly to child sexual exploitation (CSE) in the media and in reports of CSE enquiries. However, there is a lack of research that focuses on this relationship in any depth and especially research that considers its implications for alcohol service providers. This study aims to develop a better understanding of the nature and extent of the relationship between alcohol and CSE and the implications of alcohol-related CSE for alcohol service interventions, principally from the perspective of service providers but also through the voices of a small number of young people. Two qualitative approaches have been adopted to explore the role of alcohol in CSE and to establish what current intervention provision looks like: semi-structured interviews with alcohol and drug workers and CSE workers and a focus group to incorporate the voices of young people. Thematic analysis (Braun and Clarke, 2006) is used to highlight the key themes discussed by both professionals and young people. This is the first study of its kind to focus specifically on the relationship between alcohol and CSE and contributes to the evidence base in several areas. It demonstrates the complexity of the roles that alcohol can play leading up to, during, and after sexual exploitation. Alcohol is used by perpetrators during the grooming process; it is used by young people both during and after CSE, as part of an emotional response to the trauma they are experiencing. However, alcohol is also a ‘normal’ part of growing up for many young people, which adds complexity to the assessment of, and response to, alcohol-related CSE. An explanatory model is presented to demonstrate the role of alcohol in CSE. Supporting young people around alcohol and CSE can be challenging, not just because of the complexity of this relationship but also because of difficulties getting young people to engage in the support process. This research is the first of its kind to speak to alcohol service providers specifically on this topic, to gain an insight into their response to alcohol-related CSE and to identify how young people experiencing it can be better supported.

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