Our research builds on work we are already doing to encourage children and young people to engage in efforts to prevent and respond to sexual abuse (Warrington et al 2017; Beckett and Warrington 2015; Beckett et al 2013; Allnock and Miller, 2013) as well as the work on participation being carried out by our partners at the Association for Young People’s Health.
It adopts an integrated, mixed methods approach that places young people’s perspectives at the heart of the work.
We will engage with young people through a series of carefully designed participatory action research workshops. We aim to work with, and learn from, 30-40 “Experts by Experience” - young people, aged 14-18, who have experienced sexual abuse in adolescence.
During the Experts by Experience workshops we will:
- review – and adapt – our proposed approach with participants
- spend time exploring the research process and ways in which participants can become active co-creators of knowledge
- explore young people’s understandings of the concepts of mental health, wellbeing, resilience and recovery, with reference to professional understanding and definitions of these terms
- develop alternative definitions that align with and reflect the experiences and understanding of the young people whose lives the study is trying to understand, where this is beneficial
- explore key moments, interventions, activities or factors which young people identify as helping or hindering their sense of wellbeing after abuse
- explore ways in which these factors could be enhanced or addressed, as appropriate
- develop a series of “composite case studies” (fictionalised versions of participants’ collective experiences) to illustrate these factors and provide the basis for further dialogue.
The project aims to foster dialogue; mapping differences and similarities in perspective and understanding between different groups. We will also engage professionals and safe parents/carers in group-based discussions, both as separate groups and – later in the project - together with one another and representatives of our Experts by Experience. These interactions will move beyond data-gathering to engage the participants in the process of data analysis and prioritising findings.
The study also includes a literature review and a case-study strand which will inform the discussions and help us to consider the wider systemic factors that individual participants may be unaware of.