Social workers' knowledge and confidence when working with cases of child sexual abuse Research with social workers, managers and LSCB chairs exploring issues and challenges
Working with children affected by sexual abuse is complex and demanding. Social workers need to be confident they have the skills and knowledge to tackle emerging issues such as internet based abuse, grooming, trafficking or child sexual exploitation.
We commissioned Coventry University to undertake research in 6 local authorities in England. This report highlights issues around training, peer and managerial support and supervision, experience of managing cases and direct work with children. It makes recommendations for The College of Social Work, educators, employers and LSCBs.
Authors: L. Martin, G. Brady, J. Kwhali, S.J. Brown, S. Crowe, and G. Matouskova
The research found that social workers’ confidence was dependent on a number of different factors:
- social workers are generally more confident working with sexual abuse in the family, compared with cases involving internet based abuse, grooming, trafficking or child sexual exploitation
- sexual abuse may be underreported or difficult to identify in situations where child neglect or other concerns are the primary reason for referral
- adequate support is not always available to sexually abused children or their families once safeguarding actions have been taken and the case has been closed
- regular support and supervision is important in developing social workers’ skills and confidence. Peer- and counselling-based support are key in managing the emotional impact of the work
- training was variable in terms of availability, access, focus, format, quality and relevance to practice. Many social workers felt they had to ‘learn on the job.’
One of the report’s key recommendations is that:
- the social work profession needs to be empowered to promote the overall well-being of the child during abuse investigations, even when criminal proceedings are taking place.
|Recommendations/best practice suggestions for change||27|
Please cite as: Martin, L. et al. (2014) Social workers' knowledge and confidence when working with cases of child sexual abuse: what are the issues and challenges?. London: NSPCC.
Sexual abuse: a public health challenge
Facts and statistics
View the latest facts and statistics about child sexual abuse.
Assessing the risk: protecting the child: evaluation report
Breaking the wall of silence
Estimating the costs of child sexual abuse in the UK
Qualitative study of children, young people and 'sexting'
Letting the Future In
Protect and Respect
Assessing the Risk, Protecting the Child
Child sexual exploitation
Our Current Awareness Service for Practice, Policy And Research delivers free weekly email alerts to keep you up-to-date with all the latest safeguarding and child protection news.
Follow us on Twitter and keep up-to-date with all the latest news in child protection.
We hold the UK's largest collection of child protection resources and the only UK database specialising in published material on child protection, child abuse and child neglect.
New in the Library
A free weekly email listing all of the new child protection publications added to our library collection.
Helping you keep children safe
Read our guide for professionals on what we do and the ways we can work with you to protect children and prevent abuse and neglect.
Impact and evidence hub
Find out how we evaluate and research the impact we’re making in protecting children, get tips and tools for researchers and access resources.
Get expert training and consultancy
Sharing knowledge to keep children safe
Read our guide to the NSPCC Knowledge and Information Service to find out how we can help you with child protection queries, support your research, and help you learn and develop.