Breaking Through: Moving on from CSE

We are extremely proud to be launching “Breaking Through – Moving on from child sexual exploitation” – a new set of resources developed in partnership with Dr Kate Brown, a leading academic at University of York (also Chair of Basis Yorkshire). Breaking Through features the voices and experiences of those who have experienced CSE and then moved on in some way, with words of wisdom for other young people and professionals.

The resources include an animation co-produced by young people, a young person’s booklet with short quotes from the stories and all the stories in full.

The project has generated new insights into experiences of CSE, addressing the issue that the voices of young people often get lost or overlooked in debates about how it should be addressed (Berelowitz et al, 2013). As well as showing the different ways abuse happens, the vivid accounts provide unique insights into how experiences of CSE are shaped by wider factors such as welfare systems, criminal justice responses, education, access to money, relationships with parents, and interventions from services and professionals.


The stories highlight how CSE happens to young people from a wide range of backgrounds, boys and girls, but also how some young people are especially vulnerable. Experiences in care, run-ins with the police, trouble at school and drug or alcohol use all feature here, mirroring wider research in this area. Young people recount being seen as ‘troublesome’ – blamed for their situation – underlining that if services are to be effective, they need to reach those with ‘difficult’ behaviour as well as young people considered most ‘deserving’ of support.

All the stories show how  important it is for professionals to build trust with young people, taking time to listen and keep them informed about what is going on, making sure they know professionals are on their side. For this, agencies need appropriate resources and time as well as knowledge, so wider issues about how the state supports young people form the backdrop to the individual accounts.

Given the concu-wis8w8aaeofktent, certain sections may be challenging to read or watch but we hope the resource will help young people, families and professionals understand the variety of ways in which young people experience CSE and move on in ways that best match the realities of CSE as told by those who know it best.

We are extremely grateful to the all the young people and adults that shared their experience, gave their time to develop the resource and all the professionals involved in creating the resource including Chapel FM, Lucy Barker,  Ben Holden, Chris Sharkey, staff at York University, Basis Yorkshire, Time2 Project and the BLAST Project. We would also like to thank the ESRC who committed their funding to this research.

All resources are free to download – please share the resources widely (please credit Breaking Through: Moving on from Child Sexual Exploitation resources and also Dr Kate Brown, University of York)

Watch the animation here: Breaking Through  – Moving on from CSE: 

Download the full stories in PDF here

Download the Young People’s version here