A joint document designed to help healthcare professionals identify young children who may be at risk of sexual exploitation has been launched today. The project, Spotting The Signs, was funded by the Department of Health and produced by BASHH (the lead professional representative body for those managing STIs and HIV in the UK) and Brook (a charity which provides sexual health services for young people) . The document is a pro-forma, aimed at those working in sexual health services and is designed to be used within existing social and sexual health history frameworks, supporting professionals to engage young people in conversations about their risk of sexual exploitations.
Based on current research and evidence, the document assists professionals in indentifying circumstances and behaviours which be concerning, and reminds us about the dangers of assumptions based on the stereotypes we hold of certain social groups and cultures. The project was developed through consultations with young people.
The proforma was written by Dr Karen Rogstad of BASHH and Georgia Johnston of Brook. Dr Karen Rogstad is a Consultant in HIV and Sexual Health at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and previously chair of the BASHH Adolescent Special Interest Group “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.”
Spotting the Signs is available to download from Brook and BASHH’s websites. It can be used alongside existing Brook guidance documents such as the traffic light toolkit which helps identify behaviours which may be cause for concern.