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Multiagency response to childhood sexual abuse: a case study that explores the role of a specialist centre

Multiagency response to childhood sexual abuse: a case study that explores the role of a specialist centre
Multiagency response to childhood sexual abuse: a case study that explores the role of a specialist centre

Through the application of case study methods, this research explored the role of a specialist centre that responds to actual or suspected childhood sexual abuse (CSA). When CSA is suspected to have occurred, children and families and professionals from statutory agencies are required to navigate complex processes. This study was undertaken to explore those processes in a specialist children's referral centre. It comprised three datasets: (1) 60 children (0–17 years) were ‘tracked’ to ascertain reasons for referral, the type of examination and outcomes in terms of health, social care and criminal justice actions; (2) semi-structured interviews with 16 professionals (paediatricians, specialist nurses, child abuse investigation police officers and children's social workers); and (3) analysis of ‘patient’ and parent/carer satisfaction questionnaires. Medical examination rarely confirmed abuse and only 13 per cent of cases were pursued within the criminal justice system. However, 66 per cent of children had an identified health need requiring follow-up. Professionals from all groups believed the centre provided a ‘child friendly’ facility that enhanced co-operation. However, challenges with focusing on the needs of children and with mulitagency working were identified. Routine patient satisfaction data collected at the time of the study demonstrated positive views of the care received, although other data suggest that this may be an incomplete picture. ‘This research explored the role of a specialist centre that responds to actual or suspected childhood sexual abuse’. Key Practitioner Messages: Medico-legal considerations may dominate health assessment of children when CSA is suspected and yet only a small proportion of cases proceed to court. A specialist centre can provide a child-friendly environment and enhance interprofessional communication. A high proportion of children referred to statutory services following suspected CSA have a range of health and psychosocial needs that require further follow-up. Roles that cross professional boundaries may enhance CSA services but this concept requires further research. ‘A specialist centre can provide a child-friendly environment and enhance interprofessional communication’.

child sexual abuse, medical examination, multiagency response
0952-9136
209-222
Voss, Lindsay
2f395823-e452-496b-9646-9cce8a527477
Rushforth, Helen
a12eb91b-bee7-477b-9e1f-37fb3cbc0384
Powell, Catherine
1be54843-fca3-4f82-979d-58dcc2ab4ba8
Voss, Lindsay
2f395823-e452-496b-9646-9cce8a527477
Rushforth, Helen
a12eb91b-bee7-477b-9e1f-37fb3cbc0384
Powell, Catherine
1be54843-fca3-4f82-979d-58dcc2ab4ba8

Voss, Lindsay, Rushforth, Helen and Powell, Catherine (2018) Multiagency response to childhood sexual abuse: a case study that explores the role of a specialist centre. Child Abuse Review, 27 (3), 209-222. (doi:10.1002/car.2489).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Through the application of case study methods, this research explored the role of a specialist centre that responds to actual or suspected childhood sexual abuse (CSA). When CSA is suspected to have occurred, children and families and professionals from statutory agencies are required to navigate complex processes. This study was undertaken to explore those processes in a specialist children's referral centre. It comprised three datasets: (1) 60 children (0–17 years) were ‘tracked’ to ascertain reasons for referral, the type of examination and outcomes in terms of health, social care and criminal justice actions; (2) semi-structured interviews with 16 professionals (paediatricians, specialist nurses, child abuse investigation police officers and children's social workers); and (3) analysis of ‘patient’ and parent/carer satisfaction questionnaires. Medical examination rarely confirmed abuse and only 13 per cent of cases were pursued within the criminal justice system. However, 66 per cent of children had an identified health need requiring follow-up. Professionals from all groups believed the centre provided a ‘child friendly’ facility that enhanced co-operation. However, challenges with focusing on the needs of children and with mulitagency working were identified. Routine patient satisfaction data collected at the time of the study demonstrated positive views of the care received, although other data suggest that this may be an incomplete picture. ‘This research explored the role of a specialist centre that responds to actual or suspected childhood sexual abuse’. Key Practitioner Messages: Medico-legal considerations may dominate health assessment of children when CSA is suspected and yet only a small proportion of cases proceed to court. A specialist centre can provide a child-friendly environment and enhance interprofessional communication. A high proportion of children referred to statutory services following suspected CSA have a range of health and psychosocial needs that require further follow-up. Roles that cross professional boundaries may enhance CSA services but this concept requires further research. ‘A specialist centre can provide a child-friendly environment and enhance interprofessional communication’.

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Accepted/In Press date: 25 May 2017
e-pub ahead of print date: 10 August 2017
Published date: 1 May 2018
Keywords: child sexual abuse, medical examination, multiagency response

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 422076
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/422076
ISSN: 0952-9136
PURE UUID: eb736589-0d14-492f-aae4-9409db38f588

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Date deposited: 16 Jul 2018 16:30
Last modified: 07 Oct 2020 00:34

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