Harmful sexual behaviour
Harmful sexual behaviour involves problematic, abusive and violent sexual behaviour that is developmentally inappropriate.
Harmful sexual behaviour can be indicative of underlying safeguarding concerns; children who exhibit harmful sexual behaviour are likely to have experienced abuse or trauma themselves, such as:
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Severe neglect
- Parent rejection
- Family breakdown
- Domestic violence
- Parental drug and alcohol abuse.
Harmful sexual behaviour can/may:
- Cause developmental damage
- Occur between children of any age and gender
- Involve individuals or groups, targeting other individuals or groups
- Occur online and/or offline
- Be progressive and escalate.
See the NSPCC website or Brook - Traffic Light Tool for more information on what is considered healthy or normal sexual behaviour, categorised by age, to help professionals identify what may be harmful and how to respond.