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Children and young people who sexually abuse : a study of a decade of growing recognition and uncertain development

Masson, Helen (2000) Children and young people who sexually abuse : a study of a decade of growing recognition and uncertain development. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

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    Abstract

    Children and young people who sexually abuse others have emerged as a problem
    since the early 1990s in the UK. This thesis attempts to provide a reflexive account
    and analysis of developments in policy, procedures and services in England during the
    past decade. It is based on empirical research undertaken primarily during the period
    1994-1996 but complemented by analysis of available information drawn from the
    early 1990s and post 1996.

    Based on the premise that the problem of children and young people who sexually
    abuse is both a `real' and a socially constructed phenomenon, my research strategy
    was exploratory and descriptive in nature. The research began with the analysis of
    documents which, in the early 1990s, comprised the only official and semi-official
    guidance for welfare professionals on how to respond to children and young people
    who sexually abuse others. In the context of this guidance developments in policy,
    procedures and services in 106 local Area Child Protection Committee areas (ACPCs)
    in England, in respect of young sexual abusers, were then researched using a variety
    of data collections methods. These included documentary analysis of ACPC annual
    reports and inter-agency guidance, telephone and face-to-face interviews with
    individual professionals and welfare agency representatives, and a national survey by
    questionnaire of professionals involved in this area of work.

    The findings from the research indicate that the problem of children and young people
    who sexually abuse is characterised by much complexity and continuing uncertainty,
    with uneven, varying and often minimal developments in policy, procedure and
    services across ACPC areas. A child protection discourse about the nature of the
    problem and how young sexual abusers should be managed and responded to, which
    was identified during the research, emerges as contested and problematic, with
    professionals and agencies struggling with both lacks in resources and more
    fundamental philosophical, conceptual and procedural dilemmas. It is argued in the
    thesis that this complexity and uncertainty can be more fully understood only when
    reference is made to wider theoretical debates about the nature of childhood and
    childhood sexuality and with reference to shifting policies and legislation in respect of
    child welfare and youth crime.

    The thesis concludes by assessing the strengths and limitations of the study and
    suggesting directions for future research. In addition, some final reflection is offered
    on how, over time, my role as researcher became somewhat modified as a result of the
    work I undertook. Specifically, having conducted research into an aspect of study in
    relation to young sexual abusers hitherto virtually unexplored in England, I found that
    I was being called on to make various contributions to the shaping of future policy
    and procedure.

    Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
    Additional Information: EThOS Persistent ID uk.bl.ethos.327149
    Uncontrolled Keywords: Youth crime, Juvenile sexual offenders, Sociology, Human services, Law, Law enforcement, Prisons
    Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
    H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
    H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
    Schools: School of Human and Health Sciences
    School of Human and Health Sciences > Centre for Applied Childhood Studies
    Depositing User: Graham Stone
    Date Deposited: 23 Oct 2009 10:41
    Last Modified: 23 Dec 2010 14:56
    URI: http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/id/eprint/5977

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