Strengthening participatory practice with children and young people affected by sexual violence

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The Team

Last updated: Wed 10, 2020

Our team is based at the International Centre: researching child sexual exploitation, violence and trafficking at the University of Bedfordshire in the UK.

Our team:

Professor Jenny Pearce, OBE

Professor of Young People and Public Policy

Bio: Jenny Pearce is Professor of Young People and Public Policy, University of Bedfordshire, which was awarded the Queens Anniversary Prize for research on child sexual exploitation influencing safeguarding in 2013. She was Founder and director of the International centre researching child sexual exploitation, violence and trafficking (2006 to 2016) and continues to work on research and teaching projects associated with the centre. She is a Visiting Professor at Goldsmiths College, University of London and International Senior Research Fellow with the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, NUI Galway, Ireland. Jenny is Independent Scrutineer/ Chair of the Local Safeguarding Children Partnerships: London Boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster. She is leading a University Network Challenging Sexual Violence Against Children. She is on the Advisory Group for The Association of Safeguarding Partners (TASP) and continues to advise and work with case reviews and workforce development activities in child protection, social and youth work practice. Her research and consultancy focuses on preventing sexual violence against children and she works with a range of national and international agencies towards this aim.

Helen Beckett Image

Dr Helen Beckett

Director of the International Centre: researching child sexual exploitation, violence and trafficking

Bio: I am an action-oriented researcher, with particular expertise in the fields of child sexual exploitation (CSE) and other forms of sexual violence in youth. I have a particular interest in exploring ethical means of researching sensitive issues and facilitating the meaningful engagement of marginalised children and young people in research. I am committed to developing links between research and policy and practice discourse and, as such, regularly present on my subject of expertise and undertake media work around this. I represent the University on a number of different advisory bodies and policy forums and lead on a number of different knowledge transfer projects within the International Centre. I also lead our Masters module and short-courses on CSE and other forms of sexual violence. I joined the University of Bedfordshire in September 2011. I became Deputy Director of the International Centre in May 2013 and Joint Director in June 2015. Prior to coming to the University, I worked in the fields of research and policy across the academic, statutory and voluntary sectors in Northern Ireland for fifteen years. Other areas of research expertise developed during his time include the experiences of looked after children and young people, youth homelessness and other forms of social marginalisation experienced by youth.

Claire Cody

Senior Research Fellow

Bio: I am a Senior Research Fellow based within the International Centre: Researching child sexual exploitation, violence and trafficking at the University of Bedfordshire. I have been working in the fields of child rights and child protection for the last 14 years based within the UK charity sector, the international development field and academia. Over the last decade my research has focussed on understanding and improving responses to children and young people affected by various forms of sexual violence. I established an international network on the recovery and reintegration of children affected by child sexual exploitation and trafficking in 2010, which subsequently led to the development of the RISE Learning Network, now led by the organisation Family for Every Child. I have carried out fieldwork in the USA, India, Cambodia, Albania, Moldova and Serbia exploring responses to young people affected by sexual violence. I have undertaken consultancies for INGOs including ECPAT International and World Vision Cambodia.

Dr Camille Warrington

Young People's Participation Development Officer

Bio: I am an applied social researcher with a particular interest in participatory research practice, creative and inclusive methodologies and service user involvement. In recent years my work has focused on children with experiences of sexual violence in the UK and in particular their experiences of service responses including police, social care and third sector support. I am particularly interested in how children’s decision-making informs or is marginalised from these processes and the implications for children’s safety. I have an active interest in developing ethical approaches to researching sensitive issues and facilitating meaningful engagement of marginalised children and young people. Recent research areas include a participatory study of young people’s experiences of criminal justice processes in child sexual exploitation cases (Beckett and Warrington 2014); research on children and unreported crime (Beckett and Warrington 2013) and an evaluation of AVA’s programme to involve young people in efforts to prevent sexual violence (Warrington and Thomas, forthcoming). In June 2013 I completed a doctorate exploring service user’s involvement in decision making about their care in relation to child sexual exploitation. My work has involved developing a range of creative, participatory projects seeking to further meaningful dialogue between young people, policy makers and researchers. Examples of this work include a series of four films on gang-associated sexual violence devised by groups of young people and related dissemination events; the Be Healthy Project training specialist young health advocates and What Works for Usa national network of CSE affected service users. Camille is a qualified and experienced youth worker and has worked in a variety of voluntary and statutory sector projects both as a practitioner and researcher including leaving care teams, youth services, and provision for young Gypsy and Travellers.

Dr Silvie Bovarnick

Research Fellow

Bio: I joined the International Centre in 2016 to work on “Our Voices”, a project funded by the Oak Foundation, which aims to promote and support the participation of children and young people in preventing sexual violence in Europe. I developed an interest in researching violence and abuse during my postgraduate degrees. My doctoral thesis examined whether human rights are a useful tool for addressing violence against women in Mexico and Pakistan. Since then I have worked for various NGOs and government institutions, both in the UK and internationally. In London, I have worked as Senior Research Officer at the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), a UK-based children’s charity, where I undertook research on various areas of child maltreatment including child trafficking. Prior to this, I served as Research Associate in the UK Government (Department of Health), undertaking a comprehensive national research programme on the health and mental health effects of violence and abuse. I hold a PhD in Politics from the University of Bristol and an MA in International Relations from the University of Warwick. A German native, I am fluent in English and German with good working knowledge of Spanish and French.

Claire Soares

Research Assistant

Bio: I am a Research Assistant within the International Centre with research interests in child protection, safeguarding, and support in relation to child sexual abuse/exploitation. I am particularly interested in the role and application of arts-based research methods in participatory research with children and young people. I joined the International Centre in 2019 where I have been working on various projects including the ‘Learning from the Experts’ project – a participatory study on supporting mental health and wellbeing after sexual abuse in adolescence. I also support the work of the Young Researcher’s Advisory Panel (YRAP) within the Centre and am committed to participatory research with children and young people. Prior to this I spent three years working as a member of the research team at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. Within this role I was involved in a number of projects related to child sexual abuse – and in particular that which takes place in institutional contexts. Before working in this field, I spent several years working on qualitative research projects across a range of topics and sectors. I hold a first class BA (Hons) degree in Criminology and an MA (distinction) in Childhood and Youth: applied perspectives.