Skip to content Accessibility statement

‘Real life stories’ launched to help young people through child sexual exploitation

Posted on 2 November 2016

An academic from the University of York has joined forces with charity Basis Yorkshire to produce an animation and booklets to help those with experience of child sexual exploitation (CSE).

Co-produced by young people who have been through CSE, Breaking Through: Moving on from child sexual exploitation provides real stories and advice for young people, parents, policy makers, practitioners and the general public. 

Working with a researcher, an artist and a CSE support worker, young people created an animation which features their own experiences and also those of others who participated in a wider research project, highlighting how CSE happens to boys and girls from a wide range of backgrounds.

Providing insights into the realities of CSE, the booklets and animation also show how some young people are especially vulnerable, with experiences shaped by wider factors such as welfare systems, criminal justice responses, education, access to money, relationships with parents, and interventions from services and professionals.

Real stories

Dr Kate Brown, Lecturer in Social Policy and Crime at York’s Department of Social Policy and Social Work, said: “Despite widespread concerns about CSE in the UK, the voices of those who have experienced this often get lost or overlooked in debates about how it should be addressed. We now understand more about how abuse happens, but we hear less about how young people manage to move on from it and what can best support this process. 

Breaking Through reveals the importance of understanding the diversity of experiences of CSE, but also how some young people are particularly affected. Experiences in care, run-ins with the police, trouble at school and drug and alcohol use all feature. Each person recounts being seen as ‘troublesome’ in some way ─ often blamed for their situation. This underlines that we must reach those who might be considered ‘difficult’, as well as those seen as ‘easier’ to work with, if responses to CSE are to be effective.

“All of the stories show how important it is for professionals to build trust with young people, and to take the time to listen and keep them informed. To support the ‘breaking through’ process, agencies need knowledge but also appropriate resources. This will inform a wider context of changing developments in how the state supports children and young people more generally.”

New resources

Gemma Scire, Chief Executive at Basis Yorkshire, said: “We hope the resources will help young people, families and professionals to understand the variety of ways in which young people experience CSE and move on from it.

“Given the content, certain sections may be challenging to read, but we aim to help parents, practitioners and policy makers support young people in ways that best match the realities of CSE as told by those who know it best.”

Further information:

  • For further information about the University of York’s Department of Social Policy and Social Work, visit:

Explore more news

Media enquiries

Saskia Angenent
Press Officer

Tel: 01904 323918