Unprotected, Overprotected (note: you can read the report in the link this article, or download the PDF)
This is a particularly important report, in all honesty there’s very little in here I didn’t know already. The research was based around a relatively small number of participants but that doesn’t matter to me, because it is accurate. In my work I’m acutely aware of how people with disabilities young and old are taken advantage of by others, including at times others with disabilities. Education around sexuality is important, and on-line safety but for me the main issue and something I have worked with people around is the ability to recognise a predator, to know someone is dodgy, or what people’s intentions are. This is particularly difficult for people with Autism and for those with disabilities whose social difficulties are prevalent, some people just don’t have the filter to read others. I’ve been involved with many safeguarding cases, many not around sexual exploitation but enough to have seen a variety of ways (many detailed in this report) on how easily it can happen.
This is an important read for professionals and the general public, it’s up to all of us to watch out for each other, particularly those in our communities who are vulnerable. Sexual exploitation has been given a great deal of media time lately, mostly due to the “pick up artist” types, who are in my mind incredibly dangerous people, they are often teaching others how to recognise and take advantage of vulnerable people, this report is timely in that sense. What stands out for me is the aspects regarding differing professionals in that disability support people aren’t aware of child sexual exploitation and that CSE professionals aren’t informed enough about disabilities. I’m sure there’s truth to this, but it is slightly at odds with my experience where so much of our work is focussed on safeguarding both real and potential and if anything people in disability care are at times too cautious (being over-protective can as likely fail people as not doing enough) I can’t speak for CSE professionals, but I’d be happy to educate them on learning disabilities.
It’s a tough read, but you should.