Dr Claire Cody

Senior Research Fellow

Claire Cody

I am a Senior Research Fellow based within the Safer Young Lives Research Centre at the University of Bedfordshire. I am currently working on the 'Our Voices III' project which is: exploring the role of 'participatory approaches' in addressing child sexual abuse and exploitation; and developing an international network of researchers committed to challenging sexual violence against children.

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 and donors such as Ignite Philanthropy.

My recent research explores: the use of arts-based, group work with young people affected by child sexual abuse and exploitation; the value and challenges of peer support interventions for young people affected by sexual violence and; the process and outcomes of a participatory advocacy project with young women with lived experience of sexual violence in Eastern Europe. In my work, I draw on trauma-informed approaches and feminist and empowerment theories to understand and explore the potential role of group work, art and activism with young people affected by sexual violence.


  • BSc (Hons) Psychology - University of Exeter
  • MSc Social Anthropology - University of Oxford
  • Professional Doctorate, Leadership in Children's and Young People's Services - University of Bedfordshire

Teaching Role

  • Supervision of masters and doctoral students.
  • Lecture on the MA units 'Understanding CSE and associated forms of harm’ and 'The conceptual framework: theories shaping public policy for children and young people's services.'

Research Interests

  • The sexual exploitation and trafficking of children and young people
  • The participation of children and young people with lived experience in advocacy, practice, policy and research
  • Creative and arts-based practice
  • Feminist theory and trauma-informed practice

Recent Research and Action Projects

  • Our Voices III
  • Our Voices Too
  • Our Voices
  • RISE Learning Network (promoting learning on Recovery and (Re-)integration from Child Sexual Exploitation) in partnership with Family for Every Child and Retrak
  • Home: The Child Recovery and Reintegration Network
  • Protection against Vulnerability. The Indian Experience 'What works?'

Recent Publications and Outputs

Conference Presentations and Workshops

  • Cody, C. et al. (2022) Pre-conference workshop: Young people and participatory methods. Sexual Violence Research Initiative (SVRI) Forum, Cancun. Mexico
  • Cody, C. and Bovarnick, S. (2022) How can youth participatory initiatives help to integrate learning between the VAC and VAW sectors? Lessons from a trauma-informed youth advocacy project involving young survivors of sexual violence in Albania, Moldova and Serbia. Sexual Violence Research Initiative (SVRI) Forum, Cancun. Mexico
  • Cody, C. (2022) Trauma informed data collection. Online workshop for Ignite Network of Networks.
  • Cody, C. (2021) ‘Peer support for young people affected by sexual violence: why and how?’ I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends: Working with Friendship and Peer Support When Safeguarding Adolescents. Making Research Count Webinar
  • Cody, C. (2017) Involving young people affected by sexual violence in efforts to prevent sexual violence in Europe: why and how? Symposium presentation at ISPCAN's European Regional Meeting, The Hague, Holland, 4th Oct, 2017
  • Cody. C (2015) Webinar: Young people's views on their role in sexual violence prevention efforts, University of Bedfordshire, 18th November, 2015
  • Chair of the Organising Committee for the Cumberland Lodge Colloquium 'Young people affected by sexual violence as change makers in prevention efforts: what are the opportunities and what are the risks?', Cumberland Lodge, Great Windsor Park, UK, 28th September, 2015
  • Cody. C. (2015) Child and youth participation for prevention and protection: The 'Our Voices' Project. Presented at the High Level, Cross Regional Meeting on Protection of Children from Sexual Violence, Council of Europe and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Violence Against Children, Strasbourg, 19th June, 2015
  • Cody, C. and Warrington, C. (2015) Making safe spaces to talk about unsafe relationships: bringing young people into the dialogue around preventing and responding to sexual violence. Presented at the 3rd International Conference of the International Childhood and Youth Research Network, European University Cyprus, Nicosia, Cyprus, 10-12th June, 2015
  • Cody, C. (2015) Utilising group arts-based interventions with young people affected by child sexual exploitation. Symposium presentation at BASPCAN's 9th Congress, 'new directions in child protection and well-being', Edinburgh University, 13 April 2015
  • Cody, C (2014) Introducing 'Our Voices': giving young people affected by sexual violence a voice in prevention efforts. Workshop at The International Centre: Researching Child Sexual Exploitation, Violence and Trafficking Conference, London, 3 July 2014
  • Cody, C. (2014) Introducing 'Our Voices'. Participation Forum - the National Working Group (NWG), Derby, 8th May, 2014
  • Cody, C (2013) Engaging the experts: the importance of working with young survivors of sexual violence in prevention efforts. Preventing Sexual Abuse of Children Conference, the Council of Europe and Government of Spain, Madrid 10-11 December, 2013
  • Cody, C. (2013) Developing a toolkit to monitor and evaluate reintegration programmes: Learning from children and young people in seven countries. Online presentation at the Global Online Counter Child Trafficking Conference. 16-18 October, 2013
  • Cody, C. (2013) Where to go from here: helping organisations monitor and evaluate reintegration programmes. Presented at the conference 'children and youth affected by armed conflict: where to go from here?' Kampala, Uganda 25-27 September 2013
  • Cody, C. (2013) Bridging research and practice to support survivors. Presented at the seminar 'human trafficking: conceptualising definitions, responses and 'what needs to be done'. University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, 13 March 2013
  • Cody, C. (2012) Life skills programming for children and young people affected by sexual exploitation and trafficking. Presented at the 're/integration of trafficked children in the Western Balkans, regional workshop'. Becici, Montenegro, 4 October 2012
  • Cody, C. (2012) What information do practitioners need to better support child survivors of sexual exploitation and related trafficking in India? Free paper at BASPCAN's 8th Congress, 'keeping children safe in an uncertain world'. Queen's University, Belfast, Northern Ireland 15-18April 2012
  • Cody, C. (2011) Improving responses for victims of trafficking through applied research, evaluation and knowledge transfer: The role of academia. Presented at the conference ' incorporating human trafficking in academic institutions: the European experience'. University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 25-26 November 2011
  • Cody, C. (2008) Birth registration: A tool for prevention, protection and prosecution in the context of child slavery. Conference paper presented at 'child slavery now'. Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation (WISE), University of Hull, 27 Nov 2008

Contact Details

E: claire.cody@beds.ac.uk


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