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Professor Jenny Pearce, OBE

Professor of Young People and Public Policy

Jenny Pearce

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 was Founder and director of the International centre researching child sexual exploitation, violence and trafficking (2006 to 2016) and continues to work on research and teaching projects associated with the centre. She is a Visiting Professor at Goldsmiths College, University of London and Research Associate with the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, NUI Galway, Ireland.

Jenny was appointed as Chair of the Local Safeguarding Children Board for the London Boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster IN May 2017. She was Chair of the Academic Advisory Board to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse 2015 to 2017, panel member of the Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England inquiry into child sexual abuse within the family environment and she continues to advise and work with case reviews and workforce development activities in social and youth work practice.

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.

Research Interests

Jenny’s research interests revolve around questions of safeguarding. In particular, they focus on accessing young people's accounts of their experiences of sexual abuse, violence and exploitation. This engages with questions of agency and resilience, gender and sexual identity, domestic and interpersonal violence and questions of representation and voice in child protection procedures. As an action researcher, she ensures that her research develops in relationship with children and young people wherever possible and with policy and practice.


  • Certificate of Education - Homerton College, Cambridge, 1975-1978
  • Bachelor of Education - Newnham College, Cambridge, 1978-1979
  • MA Sociology: with specific reference to qualitative research. (Part-time) - Goldsmiths College, University of London, 1991-1993
  • PhD Sociology. Thesis title: 'Being young and keeping safe' (Part-time) - Goldsmiths College, University of London, 1994-2002


  • OBE: for ‘work on safeguarding vulnerable children’ 2013
  • Queen’s Anniversary prize for pioneering applied research in child sexual exploitation influencing new safeguarding policy and practice: awarded to The University of Bedfordshire (The International Centre: researching child sexual exploitation, violence and trafficking), 2013
  • Lifetime achievement award 2015: for ‘outstanding contribution’ to research on Child sexual exploitation awarded by The NWG network: tackling child sexual exploitation.
  • The Vice Chancellor’s Student Experience Awards: 2015 For Research Impact of the Year: Bedfordshire University

Selected Publications

Books (selected)

  • Beckett, H and Pearce, J (eds) (2018) Understanding and responding to Child sexual Exploitation Routledge: London
  • Melrose, M and Pearce, J (eds) (2013) Critical Perspectives on child sexual exploitation and related trafficking Palgrave Macmillan
  • Pearce, J, Hynes, P and Bovarnick, S (2013) Trafficked Young people: Breaking the wall of Silence: London: Routledge Falmer
  • Pearce, J.J. (2009) Young people and sexual exploitation: It isn’t hidden, you just aren’t looking London Routledge Falmer.
  • Thom, B., Sales, R., and Pearce, J (Eds) (2007) 'Growing up with risk' Policy Press
  • Pearce, J.J. with Williams, M and Galvin, C (2002) It's Someone Taking a Part of You: a study of young women and sexual exploitation London: The National Children's Bureau. ISBN 1-900990-83-0

Book Chapters (selected)

  • Pearce, J and Coy M (2018 in press) ‘Child Sexual Exploitation and Consent to sexual activity: a developmental and context driven approach’ in Shaw, M and Bailey, S Family Justice: a developmental perspective, The Royal College of Psychiatrists, London
  • Pearce, J (2017) Consent to sexual activity, child sexual exploitation and abuse: are international guidelines protecting children? In Dolan, P and Frost, N ‘The Handbook of Global Child Welfare’ Routledge, London: 153-165
  • Pearce, J (2017) ‘Commercial sexual exploitation of children’ in Sanders, T (ed) The Oxford Handbook of Sex Offices and Sex Offenders University Press, New York City : 163-183
  • Firmin, C and Pearce, J (2016) ‘The Effects on Black Children and Young People living in Gang –affected neighbourhoods’ in Bernard, C and Phulwati Harris, P Safeguarding Black Children : Good Practice in Child Protection London: Jessica Kingsley: 76-92
  • Pearce, J, J (2014) ‘Sexual exploitation within a child protection framework’ in Blyth, M (ed) Moving on from Munro Improving children's services Policy Press, Bristol: 125-143
  • Pearce, J,J (2013) ‘Contextualising Consent’ in Melrose, M and Pearce, J (eds) (2013) Critical Perspectives on child sexual exploitation and related trafficking Palgrave Macmillan
  • Pearce J,J (2010) ‘Preventing sexual abuse through child participation’ in The Council of Europe Publication: ‘Protecting children from sexual violence - A comprehensive approach’ Council of Europe. Strasbourg ISBN 978-92-871-6972-3
  • Pearce, J (2010) ‘Young People, Participation and Empowerment’ Introduction to Chapter 2: Participation and improving services in The Eurochild publication “Valuing children’s potential” Eurochild, Brussels.
  • Pearce, J,J (2009) Beyond Child Protection: young people, social exclusion and sexual exploitation in Phoenix, J (ed) Regulating sex for sale: prostitution policy reform Policy Press: 121-137
  • Pearce J. J (2007) ‘Sex, risk and resilience in adolescence’ in Coleman, J. and Hagell, A. Adolescence, risk and resilience: against the odds Chichester: John Wiley

Articles in Peer Reviewed Journals (selected)

  • Brodie, I and Pearce, J (2017) ‘Violence and alternative care: a rapid review of the evidence’ in Psychology, Health and Medicine Vol 22, No S1: 245-266
  • Firmin, C., Warrington, C., and Pearce, J. (2016) Sexual exploitation and its impact on developing sexualities and sexual relationships: the need for contextual social work interventions, in British Journal of Social Work 46 (8): 2318-2337.doi: 10.1093/bsjw/bcw134
  • Beckett, H and Pearce, J (eds) (2015) ‘Community safety journal’: special edition on Preventing sexual violence against children: a community response’
  • Pearce, J (2013) ‘What’s Going On’ to safeguard children and young people from child sexual exploitation: A review of Local Safeguarding Children Boards’ work to protect children from sexual exploitation?’ Child Abuse Review, first published online,21 JUN 2013 DOI: 10.1002/car.2269
  • Pearce, J (2011) ‘Working with Trafficked Children and Young People: Complexities in Practice’ British Journal of Social Work 41(8): 1424-1441
  • Pearce, J (2010) ‘Young People, sexual exploitation and trafficking: Contemporary issues in connecting discourses of child abuse and child protection’ in Pearce J and Melrose M (joint editors) Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking: Where is the understanding of the child in contemporary practice in the UK? Journal of ‘Youth and Policy’: Special Issue on young people and sexual exploitation and trafficking of young people: contemporary debates Number 104
  • Pearce J.J. (2007) Joint Editor (with Phoenix, J) of a Special edition on ‘The prostitution strategy: how will it impact on community safety?’ ‘Editorial’: pages 3 – 7 The Community Safety Journal. ISSN 1477-5883
  • Pearce, J.J. (2006) ‘Who needs to be involved in safeguarding sexually exploited young people?’ Child Abuse Review Vol 15: 326-340 ISSN 0952-9136


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