BASHH and Brook launch a new child sexual exploitation (CSE) proforma, Spotting the Signs, to help health professionals across the UK identify young people attending sexual health services who may be at risk of or experiencing sexual exploitation.
Spotting the Signs, funded by the Department of Health, allows sexual health professionals to use a standardised approach to pick up on the warning signs of CSE in all its forms. It is designed to be integrated into existing sexual and social history taking frameworks. Spotting the Signs provides a framework to support conversations with young people around CSE linked to latest research and evidence bases.
The guidance provides questions to help practitioners identify a young person's circumstances or behaviours - including non verbal signs - that may be cause for concern and indicate the young person's needs. It also reminds practitioners never to make assumptions about a young person based upon cultural, social or sexual stereotypes.
The proforma was written by Dr Karen Rogstad of BASHH and Georgia Johnston of Brook, and was developed with the support of a multi-agency advisory board and working group, including focus groups of young people from across the UK. The proforma is for use with young people under 18, and was piloted in a range of services including GUM clinics, specialist young people's services and General Practice.
Dr Karen Rogstad, Consultant in HIV and Sexual Health at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and previously chair of the BASHH Adolescent Special Interest Group, said:
"This is the first national proforma to be developed which covers all sexual health providers working with young people, and that has been developed with young people's input. It is particularly valuable because of the range of services that have evaluated it, including General Practice, and its endorsement by a wide range of organisations. I hope it will help in identifying those young people who are being exploited as well as those who may be at risk in the future.
"I would like to thank all the young people who participated in the focus groups, the many contributors to the development of the proforma, and the Department of Health and the Home Office for their support."
Georgia Johnston, Brook's lead on CSE, commented:
"I am delighted to have worked with BASHH in developing this proforma which we hope will transform the way that CSE is detected and handled, and which will in turn benefit the thousands of young people who are at risk of CSE.
"I extend special thanks to the young people who supported this project. Their brave work and honesty will help to ensure that their peers will be less likely to be victims of CSE. This proforma will be invaluable to anyone who works to safeguard the health and wellbeing of young people."