CHILDREN who are constantly moved around the social care system are more likely to be vulnerable to sexual exploitation, new research concludes.
Dr Sophie Hallett of Cardiff University led the study, which used case records to track a cohort of 205 children involved with social services in one Welsh local authority. These were the first young people in the UK to be assessed for their risk to child sexual exploitation (CSE) – as a whole group – back in 2006.
The analysis offers the most extensive insights into what factors contribute to children being more vulnerable to experiencing this form of abuse later on.
Child sexual exploitation happens when victims receive something such as gifts, money or affection as a result of performing sexual activities or others performing sexual activities on them. Dr Hallett’s previous research has shown that CSE is bound up with other problems and difficulties young people are experiencing – problems which can mean that some young children and young people exchange sex as a coping response.
The report shows that females in the cohort were more likely to be victims of child sexual exploitation. If the child had been a victim of sexual abuse previously, they were more than five times more likely to be abused through sexual exploitation.
The other significant factor was moving children from their living circumstances. The more moves a child experiences, the higher their chances are of becoming victims of sexual exploitation later on. On average, children in the cohort were moved to alternative living arrangements nine times. The highest number of moves for one child was 57.
Dr Hallett, based in the School of Social Sciences, said: “Although only focusing on one local authority, the systemic issues we have uncovered are representative of the sector throughout the UK. A less predictable home environment can have huge consequences for children. Without a stable home life, feelings of rejection and insecurity are exacerbated. For multiple complex reasons, it leads to them becoming more susceptible to this form of abuse.
“The analysis also highlights a number of other problems which, despite their best efforts, make it extremely difficult for those tasked with caring for these young people to be able to offer the right support.”
The report, Keeping Safe? An analysis of the outcomes of work with sexually exploited young people in Wales, also shows: As well as increasing the risk of experiencing CSE, moving children more frequently from their accommodation raises the chances of them going on to experience abuse in intimate relationships in early adulthood, as well as having an unstable housing situation. It also makes it more likely that the young person is not going to be in education and/or employment.
One in three young people in the entire study (33.7%) had experienced sexual abuse at some point in their childhood. This figure is higher for young people at high risk of CSE (46.3%).
Over two thirds of the entire sample had previously experienced emotional abuse (70.2%), more than half had experienced physical violence (58%) and half (50.7%) had experienced neglect by parents/caregivers prior to going into care.
More than half of young people who had experienced CSE had become parents in the period of the study (57.4%) compared to 17.9% in the non-CSE group.
Interventions commonly used for responses to CSE, such as healthy relationships education, did not have a positive impact for the majority of young people who received this support, and were in some case associated with negative outcomes.
Having a supportive adult in their lives had the most positive impact for young people. One-to-one work such as spending time with a young person, engaging them in activities, or addressing their confidence and self-esteem, was also the intervention most likely to help – those who received this type of support were less likely to have issues with alcohol and drug misuse and to have involvement with social services later in life.
Alongside this analysis of case files, Dr Hallett spent six weeks in a children’s residential home with young people deemed to be at risk of CSE. She also gathered opinion from social workers, residential care workers, foster carers and young people.
She said the research pointed to frustrations that little could be done to tackle the root causes of this abuse.
She said: “The report presents a troubling account of the entire care system. Young people were angry at the bodily or behavioural attention they received and the seemingly limited concern for them and their happiness.
“Foster carers said there was no support to address the abuse or rejection children had experienced and were concerned that the safeguarding measures they were having to put in place were sending messages to young people that they were the ones at fault.
“Residential workers and social workers felt their work revolved around managing risky behaviours and they did not have the resources to focus on deeper causes, such as issues of identity, loss, abuse and rejection that many of these young people struggle with.
“Unless more is done to recognise and address these widespread concerns, child sexual exploitation is going to remain a serious problem.”
Dr Hallett is presenting her findings today to social workers and policy makers. She will share a range of visual tools and materials produced from the research, to generate discussion and to support practitioners and service managers to challenge and change their practice.
Two teams of chefs to represent Wales at the Culinary Olympics
Two well prepared teams of chefs will be flying the Welsh flag as they take on the best in the world at the prestigious IKA Culinary Olympics in Stuttgart next month.
The senior and junior teams will join around 2,000 chefs and pastry chefs from more than 60 nations at the biggest and oldest international culinary art exhibition from February 14 to 19.
Senior Culinary Team Wales will be led by Nick Davies, culinary craft trainer with Cambrian Training, Welshpool, who combines the roles of team manager and member whilst Sergio Cinotti, from the award-winning Gemelli Restaurant, Newport, takes over the captaincy for the first time.
Junior Culinary Team Wales has Michael Kirkham-Evans, a lecturer at Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, Rhos-on-Sea, as manager and former senior team captain Danny Burke, a partner in Olive Tree Catering, Runcorn, as coach.
Also selected to represent the senior team are pastry chef Will Richards from Cambrian Training, Dylan Wyn Owen, Manchester City Football Club’s executive chef, Matthew Smith, freelance chef from Newtown, Mark Robertson from Coleg Cambria, Wrexham, Jay Humphris from Coleg y Cymoedd and Thomas Martin, a freelance chef from Pontypridd. Logistics manager is Peter Fuchs, culinary director of The Celtic Collection and ICC Wales, Newport.
The senior team has held four events to run through the dishes it will cook for the Restaurant of Nations – one element of the competition – at the Culinary Olympics. The chefs complete preparations with a sold-out dinner at Cobra Rugby Club on January 17.
The team met on January 2 to run through its chef’s edible buffet, a new element introduced for the Culinary Olympics and will complete last minute fine tuning at a final training session on February 3.
“The team has a good mix of seasoned competitors and new members who have brought some fresh ideas to the table,” said Nick, who will be competing at his fifth Culinary Olympics. “Most of the chefs will be competing at the Culinary Olympics for the first time and are understandably excited by the prospect. They have bonded very well.
“Our Restaurant of Nations menu is looking and tasting good and we are perfecting the chef’s edible buffet, which is being introduced for the first time at the Culinary Olympics.”
The team’s Restaurant of Nations menu for 110 covers opens with a starter of halibut, prawn, ravioli, textures of peas, asparagus and wild garlic and Carmarthen ham. Main course is marmalade glazed duck breast, confit leg bon bon, skin granola, root vegetable terrine, carrot puree and port jus. Dessert is rhubarb, apple, white chocolate, stem ginger and pistachio.
The junior team, captained by Callum Smith, The Lion and Pheasant, Shrewsbury, includes pastry chef Alys Evans, Llanerch Vineyard, Pontyclun, Dalton Weir, Home Cooking, Llandudno, Morgan Read, Brook House Mill, Denbigh, Lara Walker, Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, Alice Yeomans, Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Great Milton, Oxford and James Jarvis, Sebastians Restaurant, Oswestry.
The talented young chefs complete their Restaurant of Nations menu run through with a lunch at Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, Rhos-on-Sea on Tuesday, January 28. They put the final touches to their dishes and the chef’s edible buffet at a training bootcamp this week.
The team’s Restaurant of Nations menu features a starter of Pembrokeshire scallop and roe croquette, seabass ceviche, chilled avocado, gin and elderflower cucumber. Main course is dry aged fillet and short rib of Welsh Beef, sourdough crouton, onion puree and Butty Bach jus. Dessert is chocolate black cherry chilled fondant, white chocolate and griottine cherry custard, crème fraiche sorbet, sesame tuille and sour cherry gel.
Both manager and coach are pleased with the young team’s progress and are looking to the final practice dinner to fine tune the chefs ready for the Culinary Olympics. Most of the chefs are aged between 19 and 21.
“Alys competed with the senior team at the Culinary World Cup in November 2018 and two members went as commis chefs to gain experience,” said Michael. “The junior team is better prepared that we have ever been.
“Our Restaurant of Nations menu is packed with flavour and requires lots of different skills from the chefs. With 50 per cent of the hot kitchen marks awarded for flavour, we are hoping to score well for taste.
“The main course is braised Jacob’s Ladder and a small fillet of Welsh Beef, which seems to be working well with the people who have tasted it.
“Danny is working on the menus and has introduced some elements of the dishes that helped him to win the Northern Europe heat of the Global Chef Challenge.
“We are finalising the chef’s edible buffet, which has 12 courses, including canapes, terrines, a hot rabbit dish and a dessert.”
At the Culinary Olympics, the senior team produces its chef’s edible buffet on February 16 and its Restaurant of Nations hot kitchen menu for 110 covers on February 18. The junior team delivers its Restaurant of Nations menu for 60 covers on February 15 and its chef’s edible buffet on February 17.
Culinary Team Wales is sponsored by the Welsh Government’s Food and Drink Wales, Cambrian Training Company, Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, Castell Howell Foods, Hybu Cig Cymru and Harlech Foods.
Are you missing out on a Council Tax reduction?
IF YOU’RE struggling to pay your Council Tax bill, then help could be available for you through the Welsh Government’s flagship Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTRS).
The scheme, which will continue to support vulnerable households in 2020-21, currently benefits one in five of all households in Wales. In the last year almost 280,000 low-income households have received help from the scheme, with 220,000 paying no council tax at all. Many more receive other discounts or exemptions.
You may be entitled to pay less council tax if:
• you believe you live on a low income
• you live alone, or with people/children who do not pay council tax
• you are a student
• you are disabled
• you are severely mentally impaired
Understanding why there are still vulnerable households not benefitting from the help they are entitled to is a priority for the Welsh Government. Last year we commissioned research to understand the circumstances of households in Wales and the effects of the UK Government’s Universal Credit on the CTRS.
The interim report out today shows that for many households, the move to Universal Credit can have a significant impact on council tax reduction awards. Whilst many households currently receiving a 100% reduction will continue to do so, for others, the move to Universal Credit is shown to have an adverse impact, particularly for employed households, self-employed households, and working households in receipt of a Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment.
Full findings of the interim report are available on the Welsh Government website. These findings will now be considered in more detail to inform the next stages of the research and policy development in this area.
Encouraging people to make sure they are not missing out on help they could be entitled to, Finance Minister Rebecca Evans said:
“Ensuring every household in Wales receives the council tax support they are entitled to is an important part of our commitment to making council tax fairer.
“Our scheme is already helping hundreds of thousands of households across Wales, but we know that there are still many missing out on the discounts, reductions and exemptions they are entitled to. I encourage everyone to check the Welsh Government website to find out if they could be paying less.”
Seven injured as bus hits bridge
A BUS heading to Swansea University has struck a bridge and, as a result, seven people are being treated for injuries one of which is in a serious condition.
Emergency Services arrived at the scene on Neath Road shortly after 9:40am this morning (December 12).
A 63 year old man has been arrested and a full investigation has been launched by the bus company First Cymru.
Four of the injured were taken to Swansea’s Morriston Hospital, two were taken to Neath Port Talbot minor injuries unit and another was taken to University Hospital of Wales in a serious condition.
The bus was travelling between Swansea’s Singleton campus and the Swansea Bay campus when, according to reports, a fallen tree caused the bus driver to seek an alternative route to its destination.
The road remains closed and railway lines to Swansea are also blocked while authorities attempt to assess the damage done to the bridge with members of the public being asked to avoid the area.