Using an Intersectional Lens to Examine the Child Sexual Exploitation of Black Adolescents

Bernard, Claudia A.. 2019. Using an Intersectional Lens to Examine the Child Sexual Exploitation of Black Adolescents. In: Jenny Pearce, ed. Child Sexual Exploitation: Why Theory Matters. Bristol: Policy Press, pp. 193-208. ISBN 9781447351436 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

In this chapter I employ intersectionality as a critical lens to interrogate the ways that race, gender, class and sexuality impact black adolescents’ experiences of child sexual exploitation. In particular, the exploration will be anchored in an intersectional analysis to extend understandings of the nuanced ways in which race-constructed otherness is experienced by young black people affected by sexual exploitation. ‘Black’ is defined here as referring to individuals of African and AfricanCaribbean origin as well as persons of mixed ethnicity (African or African-Caribbean and another parentage, usually white British). A key reason for focusing on this subgroup of children is that they are disproportionately represented in the care system and the data on child sexual exploitation suggests children in the care system are disproportionately impacted. The central argument is that positional and situational inequalities intersect in complex ways to negatively impact the everyday realities of black youth, thus rendering them vulnerable to sexual exploitation. Specifically, the chapter discusses the contribution that an intersectional frame of analysis can make to intervening with sexually-exploited black youth. The chapter is organised into three parts: The first section briefly sketches the key messages from the literature on child sexual exploitation and black children. The second provides an overview of the intersectionality theoretical framework of the paper. In the final section, using a case study, from the Serious Case Review (SCR) of child R, a 15-year-old black girl in the looked-after system as an exemplar, I will present ways that an intersectional lens can offer some analytical tools to gain a deeper insight into the challenges for black youths at risk of abusive and exploitative relationships. The paper concludes with some discussion of the implications for a child-focused approach are also discussed.

Item Type:

Book Section

Additional Information:

This is a post-peer-review, pre-copy edited version of a chapter published in Child Sexual Exploitation: Why Theory Matters. Details of the definitive published version and how to purchase it are available online at:

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Social, Therapeutic & Community Engagement (STaCS)


18 October 2018Accepted
2 December 2019Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

17 Dec 2018 16:34

Last Modified:

30 Mar 2021 13:06


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