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Ms Lynne Cairns

Postgraduate Research Student

Postgraduate Research Student in the Department of Sociology


I embarked on my PhD at Durham in 2021 after first completing a PG Certificate in Social Research Methods (2020-2021). 

I qualified as a Social Worker in 2000 with an MA (Honours) in Social Work from University of Dundee and subsequently undertook post-qualifying awards including PG Diploma in Counselling and Psychotherapy (University of Stirling) and MSc (Distinction) in Psychoanalytic Observation and Reflective Practice (University of Strathclyde). I have practiced as a Social Worker in residential and secure childcare settings and, prior to joining Durham, as Senior Practitioner with Barnardo’s working with children, young people and families who had experienced abuse and/or presented Harmful Sexual Behaviours (HSB). 

I am grateful that my doctoral research is supported by an ESRC studentship through NINEDTP. I am collaborating with Scottish Violence Reduction Unit (SVRU), a partnership between Scottish Government and Police Scotland, which adopts a public health approach to violence. Our collaboration is timely as, in 2020, the Scottish Government announced their call to action and commitment to a public health response to reduce Harmful Sexual Behaviour.

Field of Study

‘Contested childhoods of boys who have displayed Harmful Sexual Behaviour: Risk, Harm, Safety and Children’s Rights’

I am interested in learning about the social dynamics of Harmful Sexual Behaviour and how it is shaped by the environments young people navigate. Looking beyond individualised adult-centric discourses, my study seeks to better locate Harmful Sexual Behaviour within the sociological and ecological contexts of everyday life and childhood(s). Using participatory methods with young people rarely ‘heard’ in research, I hope to learn from lived realities to understand how different social ecological contexts reinforce and challenge experiences of risk, harm, safety and realising Rights as children (under UNCRC) and the interplay between these contexts. 

Interest Areas
  • Child and young people who display Harmful Sexual Behaviours 
  • Child Abuse
  • Contextual Safeguarding
  • Children's Rights
  • Participatory methods