Harmful Sexual Behaviour
The Scottish Government’s 2020 report by The Expert Group on Preventing Sexual Offending Involving Children and Young People defines Harmful Sexual Behaviour(s) as: ‘Sexual behaviour(s) expressed by children and young people under the age of 18 that are developmentally inappropriate and may be harmful towards self or others and/or be abusive towards another child or young person’.
Whilst sexualised behaviour can be a natural, healthy part of growing up, some children and young people may develop inappropriate and problematic habits, or display sexually harmful behaviour.
Examples of harmful sexual behaviour can include sexual touching of others without consent, taking/sharing sexual images of other children, or engaging much younger children in sexual conversation/activity.
Distinguishing between appropriate non-abusive behaviour and inappropriate or abusive behaviour can be a complex task that requires practitioners to have an understanding of what is healthy and informed consent and what is abusive or coercive.
The resources linked to from this page can help professionals and parents identify, understand, and respond to Harmful Sexual Behaviour.