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Unprotected, overprotected: meeting the needs of young people with learning disabilities who experience, or are at risk of, sexual exploitation.


This exploratory research study aimed to increase understanding of how to meet the needs of children and young people with learning disabilities who experience, or are at risk of, CSE. Specifically, the research undertook to:

“Young people with learning disabilities are a perpetrator’s dream.”

“They are a particularly vulnerable group of children and young people that are hard to identify.”


"He told me not to tell anyone that we were together because they would stop us being together."

Recommendation 1:

Governments in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland must introduce sex and relationship education in all schools to help combat child sexual exploitation. It is vital these lessons are accessible and relevant for children with learning disabilities.

Recommendation 2:

Governments must ensure that the vulnerabilities and needs of young people with learning disabilities who experience, or are at risk of, CSE are taken into account in national action plans and guidance.

Recommendation 3:

Regulatory bodies for education, social care, health and criminal justice should ensure that all inspections, including those relating to child protection or CSE, incorporate a focus on responses to young people with learning disabilities.

Recommendation 1:

Governments in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland must introduce sex and relationship education in all schools to help combat child sexual exploitation. It is vital these lessons are accessible and relevant for children with learning disabilities.

Recommendation 2:

Governments must ensure that the vulnerabilities and needs of young people with learning disabilities who experience, or are at risk of, CSE are taken into account in national action plans and guidance.

Recommendation 3:

Regulatory bodies for education, social care, health and criminal justice should ensure that all inspections, including those relating to child protection or CSE, incorporate a focus on responses to young people with learning disabilities.