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


The Team

Last updated: Thu 05, 2018

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

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

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 is Joint Director of the ‘International Centre: Researching Child Sexual Exploitation, Violence and Trafficking’ managing applied child centred, child protection research. She is the Chair of the Academic Advisory Board to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse 2015 ongoing, and is a panel member of the Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England inquiry into child sexual abuse within the family environment. 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. She is developing an international network of agencies interesting in developing the depth and breath of practice based evidence for preventing child sexual exploitation and sexual violence against children.

Helen Beckett Image

Dr Helen Beckett

Deputy 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.

Helen Veitch

Oak Fellow

Bio: Helen has over 20 years of working in the children’s rights field, focusing on the sexual exploitation of children and children’s participation. Helen began her career working with a community of street children in Indonesia in 1994, then spent eight years building children’s rights advocacy group ECPAT UK (End Child Prostitution, Pornography and Trafficking) from a single issue campaign to a multi-faceted NGO. Between 2004-2006 Helen was based in Bangkok and worked as a Consultant on Children’s Participation at the East Asia Pacific Regional Consultation for the UN Study on Violence Against Children. After studying for a Masters Degree in Sociology of Childhood and Children’s Rights, in 2009 Helen founded Children Unite, an NGO that works in partnership with organisations to protect children in domestic work from exploitation and abuse and promote their rights world-wide. Through Children Unite Helen has facilitated and promoted participatory advocacy and research with child domestic workers. In 2015 Helen become an Oak Fellow on Children’s Participation in Preventing Sexual Violence, working in a partnership between the Oak Foundation and Bedfordshire University International Centre: researching child sexual exploitation of children, violence and trafficking, where she is focusing on strengthening participatory activities with children from across the globe who have been affected by sexual violence.

Claire Cody

Research Fellow on Youth Participation and European Knowledge Exchange

Bio: I joined the International Centre in November 2013 to work on the 'Our Voices' project. The project, funded by the Oak Foundation, aims to promote and support the participation of children and young people in preventing sexual violence in Europe. Before joining the International Centre I was the Oak Fellow based at the UHI Centre for Rural Childhood, where I worked on a project exploring the recovery and reintegration of children affected by sexual exploitation and related trafficking internationally. The project involved developing a global network of practitioners and researchers working in the field, the development of a 'knowledge hub' (, commissioning research and consultations, and the documentation and dissemination of learning and practice. Prior to this I worked as a researcher at Plan's International Headquarters working on a number of child rights issues including trafficking and birth registration.

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.

Delphine Peace

Research Assistant

Bio: I joined the International Centre in July 2017. Prior to this, I worked for The Children's Society as part of a national programme to develop prevention strategies aimed at capturing intelligence and lowering incidences of child sexual abuse and exploitation across England and Wales, focusing particularly in priority areas earmarked by police analysts. I was previously part of The Children's Society's Safeguarding and Quality Practice team, developing service models for all frontline services and managing an internal network of resources to promote good practice. I have also worked as part of the Humanitarian Aid team of the French branch of CARE International, providing project management support.