The role of sexual health nurses in identifying child sexual exploitation

Ann Marie Sangster, Maureen Crowley, Amanda McGrandles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The sexual exploitation of children and young people is a real and growing issue within contemporary society. Health professionals are well placed to identify exploited children and young people as they often access healthcare services, including sexual health clinics, seeking treatment for many associated health problems. Despite this, it is claimed that they are failing to identify this vulnerable group. This paper aims to explore sexual health nurses’ (SHNs) perceptions of their role in the identification of children and young people at risk of sexual exploitation.

The study, upon which this paper is based, utilised an interpretivist generic qualitative approach. Non-probability purposive sampling was applied and five SHNs participated in one-to-one, semi-structured interviews, which were analysed thematically.

Findings revealed participants in this study were able to identify young people at risk of sexual exploitation and had experienced this. Furthermore, existing challenges that hindered identification emerged. The paper concludes that support, supervision and professional development were required to advance practice in identification.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCommunity Practitioner
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


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