Posted March 28, 2024



ESSCP Training – Harmful Sexual Behaviours: a multiagency briefing FREE COURSE

Harmful sexual behaviour is an umbrella term defined as “sexual behaviours expressed by children and young people under the age of 18 years old that are developmentally inappropriate, may be harmful towards self or others, or be abusive towards another child, young person or adult” (definition used by NSPCC Operational Framework, derived from Hackett, 2014). It is estimated that a third of all child sexual abuse in the UK is initiated by other children and adolescents (Hackett, 2016). This multi-agency briefing will support professionals to know how to assess whether the sexual behaviour displayed by a child or young person is developmentally normal, inappropriate/problematic or abusive/violent (harmful).

Research highlights the damaging effects of stigmatising young people as ‘mini adult sex offenders’, which may even increase the likelihood of reoffending (Hackett, 2014). There is a consensus that responses need to be proportionate to the nature and extent of the behaviour, and to the young person’s age and developmental stage; and need to consider their whole situation, not just their problem behaviour. As with younger children, this holistic approach needs to take account of the young person’s own history of abuse (Chaffin et al, 2002; Hackett et al, 2006). The briefing will provide professionals with a better understanding of the locally developed harmful sexual behaviour intervention programmes, including when these programmes are suitable to use, as well outline the protocol education settings should follow when responding to concerns regarding harmful sexual behaviour, which includes assessing the behaviour, when to refer to Children’s Social Care/Police, communication with parents/carers and formulating a safeguarding risk reduction plan.

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