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Understanding Youth Image-Based Sexual Abuse: The Role of Context and Police Discretion

DHIR, ALISHYA (2023) Understanding Youth Image-Based Sexual Abuse: The Role of Context and Police Discretion. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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There has been much written about youth image-sharing and particularly ‘sexting’ over the years. Academics have explored different facets of these experiences including the role of consent, its gendered nature and proximity to relationship abuse. However, even with these investigations, there is a need to identify and understand harmful image-sharing in more depth, specifically, what is described in this research as youth image-based sexual abuse. Using knowledge about child sexual abuse images and image-based sexual abuse, this thesis intends to explore in more detail how youth image-based sexual abuse is experienced, focusing in on two themes, context, and police discretion. A mixed methods approach was utilised, including an analysis of Freedom of Information responses from Police forces in England and Wales and semi-structured interviews. Findings collated from the Freedom of Information responses provided details on different youth image-based sexual abuse offences, including the gender and age of victims and suspects. A total of 26 participants were interviewed, 18 police officers of different ranks and 8 practitioners, whose professions ranged from specialist sex and relationships educators to youth workers. The interviews shed light on the complexities of youth image-based sexual abuse, such as which cases are encountered by police and practitioners, what challenges are presented as well as how decision-making is navigated. Further themes were identified when quantitative and qualitative findings were analysed collectively, such as the impact of the situational and individual context on youth image-based sexual abuse, the degree to which police discretion is applied thematically throughout these cases, and the many challenges which police, practitioners and young people face. This thesis makes an original contribution by examining in depth the nature of youth image-based sexual abuse, as well as highlighting the influence policing and police discretion has.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Image-Based Sexual Abuse, Young People, Policing
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Sociology, Department of
Thesis Date:2023
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:25 May 2023 14:26

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