Safer Young Lives is part of the Institute of Applied Social Research

The Safer Young Lives Research Centre

The Safer Young Lives Research Centre specialises in:

  • researching the sexual abuse of children and young people and harm;
  • developing and delivering participatory practice in order to ensure research into sexual abuse is informed by and undertaken with young people, including those with lived experiences of the issues being explored;
  • carrying out evaluations of services that work with children and young people who have been abused.

The Safer Young Lives Research Centre team of researchers have substantive experience in researching sexual abuse, including navigating the ethical challenges of this work, implementing participatory approaches and using innovative methodologies. We take a holistic approach to experiences of, and responses to, these kinds of harm. This enables us to understand the wider context within which abuse of children and young people happens.

Established by Professor Jenny Pearce and led by Professor Helen Beckett until 2023, the Centre is currently led by Alice Yeo and Associate Professor Debbie Allnock

Our vision and purpose

How we work

We are an applied research centre that is committed to:

The empowerment and protection of young people

Transparency and excellence in research

Being theoretically informed and practically relevant

Collaborative and partnership-based working

Young people’s safe and meaningful participation

Inclusive and anti-oppressive practice

Ethical and innovative ways of working

Our current strategic focus

From 2021 to 2025, our work streams are particularly focusing on understanding and addressing abuse in adolescence.

Our four current key work streams are:


the nature and impact of sexual harm and abuse in adolescence, and responses to it.


a holistic and contextual account of extra-familial harm in adolescence.


leadership in the participation of young people and families in research into, and responses to, abuse in adolescence.


the development of contextual responses to harm in adolescence.

These will be reviewed annually, to take account of emerging developments in the field.


Safer Young Lives Research Centre
Institute of Applied Social Research
University of Bedfordshire
University Square