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.


Key Resources

Harmful sexual behaviour by children and young people: Expert Group report (January 2020)

Year: 2020 | Topic: Preventing Sexual Offending Involving Children and Young People | Author: Scottish Government

This report, published by Scottish Government) sets out proposals from the Expert Group on Preventing Sexual Offending Involving Children and Young People to improve prevention and early intervention in response to harmful sexual behaviour involving children and young people.

 

Preventing Harmful Sexual Behaviour in childhood and Adolescence

Year: 2017 | Topic: Helping children and young people grow up to have healthy boundaries and sexual relationships. | Author: Stop It Now! Scotland

This online resource has been developed by the Upstream Project - Stop it Now! Scotland and includes links to a range of resources for parents, carers, and professionals.

 

Safeguarding: identify, understand and respond appropriately to sexual behaviours in young people

Year: 2022 | Topic: National guidance, third sector support and good practice exemplars to help staff in education and training to respond appropriately to sexual behaviours in young people | Author: Scottish Government

This online resource from Education Scotland National Improvement Hub is designed to help staff in education and training settings, from early years to senior level and including ASN/EASN provision, to identify, understand and respond appropriately to sexual behaviours in young people.

 

Healthy relationships and consent: key messages for young people

Year: 2019 | Topic: Healthy relationships and consent | Author: Scottish Government

A Scottish Government resource for professionals which aims to help them support young people in their understanding of healthy relationships and consent.

See more resources