SUMMARY of Current and Historical Harm Related Behaviour
James Daniel Keegan is a 15 years old teenager who has been charged with rape under the Sexual Offenses Act 2003 s.13. Keegan is under 18, and thus he is accused of sexual crimes committed by children or young persons. Before the incident, there had been numerous cases of misconduct that has been reported both at school and by his mother. He is the natural child of Rosanne and Paul Keegan. Keegan witnessed the death of his father who died in a car accident while trying to protect him from being struck by a car. Two years after the death of his father, Rosanne, his mother entered into a relationship with Simon Levine who shortly after relocated with his two daughters in their home in June 2016. James' mother reported being assaulted by him by alleging that he called her a "slut" to the Children's Social Care in August 2016.
After the incident, James' character went back to normal until November 2017 where it was reported that he made sexualised comments to a female member of the stuff, the same week, he was alleged to abuse a female student at the female pupil toilets sexually. The Safer School Officer dealt with the case. The primary sexual offence happened in January 2018 after James told his mother and stepdad to take a night out and that he would take care of Becky (8 years old) whom he sexually assaulted that night.
CHARACTERISTICS of Victim Including Any Specific Vulnerabilities
Sexual abuse has been defined as a form of harmful coercion that is committed to a victim who is not in a position to make informed consent, and they are forced engage in sexual activities out of their will (Rich 2006). Becky Coster is eight years old therefore she is incapable of making sound decisions concerning sexual intercourse. Young people under the age of thirteen are considered unable to give consent to sexual activity, and the law places a strict interpretation to sexual offenders that they must take up responsibility for their actions (Wiley, 1999). Becky Coster is the biological daughter of Simon Levine; she is a stepdaughter to Rosanne Keegan and stepsister to James. Being at such young age and not living with her biological mother, she is in a very vulnerable position of being victimized by James who is twice her age. Her relationship with her stepmother is not intact since they had been living together for at least a year. There is very significant stress in the family because James feels like his mother betrayed his late father by remarrying soon after the father died. James had undergone some form of trauma after witnessing his father die in a car accident, and he did not get proper interventions thus he probably felt emotionally isolated and neglected after his mother remarried.
James' reaction when he called his mother a "slut" probably means that he has some form of hatred or contempt towards his mother. There was an ongoing absence or weakness of connection from his mother whom he had been close to since childhood, and he feels like he is not deserving of her protection or respect. Form this emotional vulnerability and significant stress from James' side, and his stepfather maybe does not offer adequate support or love as his late father did. He is in dire need of a father-like figure resembling that of his father. Due to this, he has some form of resentment to the new family, and that puts them in a risky environment.
Becky is the youngest and most vulnerable of them all thus, James overpowers her, and he can manipulate her to be more willing to tolerate the sexual interaction by making her believe that she was part of it thus she is less likely to see the sexual violation as unacceptable. Becky's position lowers her defences against abuse, therefore, make her less able to protect her or get the help that she needs. James is her big brother, the fact that her parents would leave her with him makes her look up to him for protection, and thus she does everything that he tells her to do. Keegan assessment of risks strengths makes Becky highly vulnerable circumstances of her becoming his target (Devon, 2010). Another risk factor is that Keegan is a prime teenager probably exposed too early to sexual practices. His sexualised behaviour at school reveals that he is perhaps involved with the wrong peer group and he is not getting adequate help to cope with the changes in his body.
CONTEXT and Circumstances of Harm Related Behaviour
Sexual abuse by young people is a recent field of knowledge; therefore practice and intervention have been evolving and exploratory. The problem with this is that research has been accumulating and a lot remains to be confirmed. Therefore practitioners are using systematic knowledge since sharing the practice across international boundaries is limited and most of the documentation is in North America which has different processes governing how these cases are managed (Liebman 2007). There is a growing risk of sexual abuse within families, especially families with stepchildren. According to research, 11% of young adults in the UK who participated in a survey reported being sexually abused under the age of 16 against their will. Most of them while under the age of 12, and the offender was more than five years old. A considerable percentage reported the abuse was by a relative, brothers, and stepbrothers being responsible for 38% of these acts (Grimshaw 2008). The reason why some children sexually harm others is complicated and not always visible. Keegan might have been emotionally abused or witnessed it at home. He might be passing through a puberty phase but the harm to Becky can be severe and might go on to adulthood.
This case study is placed in particular context and circumstances that make it more probable for sexual abuse to occur. Children pass through different stages of development as they grow, and how they are aware and curious about sexual matters, changes from childhood through puberty, and adolescence. There is a specific acceptable range of behaviour for these children as they pass their developmental stage where some will involve a certain level of exploration, however, if parents or caregivers do not detect warning signs of this exploration, it can lead to extreme behaviours. Considering the distance that had grown between Keegan and his mother, he was probably not able to open up to her for help, and he might have felt neglected.
Keegan's assessment covers four domains; his sexual behaviour is questionable, he has been accused of being verbally abusive in school as well as towards his mother. This is questionable since he had been reported to be a good child with respectable behaviours. He is at a developmental stage where he requires guidance so that he can understand changes in his body. His relationship with his mother is unstable leading to the onset of severe behavioural problems. This can also be due to unresolved trauma during the death of his father. The family environment is wanting; there is a neglective attitude by his mother. Thus he exhibits an inability to reflect and understand consequences of his offending behaviour. The primary context, in this case, is the insecure parent-child attachment environment in the family; probably Keegan was exposed to pornography early due to neglect considering that, he also sexually assaulted a classmate. He has failed to successfully negotiate the challenges of adolescent peer and sexual relationship probably due to lack of emotional and behavioural support from family and school (Baim 2015).
Analysis of CURRENT Risks and Harm Related Behaviours
Risk factors are broad and may have dissimilar weight within valuation due to the interchange between dynamics. It is not possible to predict any future behaviour with any confidence; thus risk elements act as markers for additional deliberation or examination using professional judgement and knowledge during an assessment session. Practitioners and Researchers use tools in the field of preclusion grounded on conceptual models of risk factors and social vulnerabilities connected to misbehaviour. The aim of assessing risk and harm related behaviour is to identify the elements of effective service to the affected child and to provide and secure access to intervention to address their offending behaviour and increase protective factors (Johnstone 2003). Young people who sexually abuse do not do so autonomously they have other risks that factor in their behaviours.
In Keegan's case, the assessment tools are applicable since the assessment is based on the risk factors of him re-offending. Keegan is at adolescent stage he has early transgression; he has adopted behaviours that would make him criminally responsible if he was of legal age. This is substantial regarding delinquency deterrence and tenacity since there is proven study that young people who start offending early are more likely to adopt severe and chronic criminal behaviours later in their life (Savignac 2016). According to Mason and Prior (2008), it is essential to focus on resistance factors in this case scenario. Rather than focusing on factors that lead to offending, it is vital to focus on ways that will move Keegan away from re-offending.
Assessment of risk of harm and harm process is dynamic that entails collecting and analysing evidence. To access the current threat of harmful behaviour, it is vital to identify past harm that the offender experienced that may have an ongoing cumulative impact. Numerous studies have recognized substantial levels of trauma in young people who commit crimes. Emotional trauma and other adverse occasions experienced by these young people if untreated can increase the risk of harm. The major harm that Keegan is facing separation from his father. These significant traumatic events in the young person's history are well captured using AssetPlus assessment tool. Keegan having experienced post-traumatic stress after the loss of his dad, is more likely to have difficulties forming a relationship with adults working with him just the same way he has problems creating a healthy relationship with his current family. He may struggle to comply or respond to behavioural programmes (Smith 2017).
Resulting from his traumatic experience, the current level of harm can also lead to progressive emotional stress due to his bruised relationship with his present family. Keegan is currently living with his grandmother meaning that he has also been separated from his biological mother. Therefore within only four years, he has been separated from both his parents therefore at risk of immediate danger of serious harm. Cumulative harm has been experienced by Keegan over an extended period due to the effects of habitual incidents of damage (Bromfield and Miller 2012). These are such as ongoing neglect from his mother, harsh discipline such as being reported by his mother to Children's Social Care instead of her dealing with the situation personally. This may also reveal persistent verbal abuse from his mother that may lead him to make such harsh comments towards her. Cumulative harm is associated with Keegan experiencing complex trauma, therefore, to determine appropriate interventions, SDM tools are used (Practice guide, 2015). Family risk evaluation, screening criteria, and family reunion assessment tools can be used to evaluate the extent of the harm.
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