26 March

Safeguarding Young People Online: Beth’s Story

Beth was upset after her relationship with a 17-year-old male broke down. Her boyfriend had left her as she had not kept their relationship secret and after she told him she felt uncomfortable engaging in certain intimate activities. Beth disclosed that her boyfriend had pressured her into giving him nude photos of herself, which he had shared on social media.

Beth also disclosed additional issues to Kooth counsellors, including her boyfriend stating that she would have to pay him for sexual favours.

Beth was offered an ongoing assessment where we could collaboratively identify any current risks and support her needs. It was during this assessment that she presented with high level of concerns around child sexual exploitation (CSE). As a result, Beth’s risk level was raised to red (high risk) and the clinical team were alerted to all disclosures made. Beth was closely monitored by the safeguarding team so that at each engagement we were able to quickly identify any elevated risks to Beth or others and put the appropriate strategies in place to safeguard her.

Due to Beth’s high risk level, a named worker was offered as a way to continually assess her progress and to allow her to build a trusting therapeutic relationship with her counsellor.

Beth’s Kooth counsellor helped her feel safe and contained whilst exploring the disclosed risks. Safety planning processes were completed; strategies were discussed and information was shared on ways she could reduce risks to herself to remain safe.

It was through this supportive process that Beth felt confident enough to disclose her personal details so that relevant services could be contacted by the clinical team. Beth’s personal details were shared with both the Police and CSE team in Beth’s area.

The procedure around disclosure of CSE was explained clearly to Beth, which enabled her to feel empowered and part of this process at each stage. She was given age appropriate information around safety online which she could access through the Child Exploitation and Online Protection command (CEOP) website.

Beth informed her named worker that while she had been in the chat she had made a report via CEOP herself which further bolstered her confidence. Since her disclosure the police have worked closely with Beth; her school has put relevant safeguarding measures in place around the male in question and the images shared.

Working within ethical guidelines when working with young people undergoing an active court case, Kooth re-contracted with Beth to ensure awareness around not being able to discuss details of the police investigation, but also to support her emotionally throughout this process.

Beth was able to access immediate support on Kooth at a time when she felt isolated, powerless and afraid. This intervention provided her the safe space to talk about her concerns and implement a safety plan with the team. Ongoing support and enabling Beth to build a trusted relationship with her named worker enabled her to disclose for the first time what was going on. Ongoing weekly support with her named worker continues.

Beth is not the young person’s real name

This is a summary of how we worked with Beth; there were further disclosures and many more stages where we provided support.