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The Problems With Researching Sexual Abuse In Black Communities

How often do we talk about child sexual abuse (CSA) in our communities? Growing up, it certainly was not a topic anyone ever discussed with me. Furthermore, I can’t recall ever using those words to describe the harmful encounters I had with boys.

Now, as an adult, I question how the normalised messages of ‘being seen and not heard’ impacted how I navigated my own experiences of sexual abuse and how confident I felt to tell my family members about what was happening to me. While it is important not to generalise and assume all black children will experience the same, I knew from a young age that I had no business opening my mouth unless I was asked to do so and, therefore, I never did until many years later.

It is my own personal experiences which led me to work with children and young people who also had been affected by abuse. However, after 20 years of working in child protection and safeguarding I am still left asking, what is known about the experiences of black children and adolescents victimised by CSA? In the UK, there has never been a systematic review of research undertaken, one that explores in detail this issue, even though recent studies into child sexual exploitation (CSE) have identified that black girls are over-represented as victims of gang-associated sexual abuse and violence.