A collection of research studies and practice resources for professionals working with adolescents and children who display harmful sexual behaviour.
Harmful sexual behaviour: NSPCC research briefing.
A review of the literature on children and young people showing or engaging in harmful sexual behaviour. Looks at definitions, terminology, incidence and prevalence. Considers reasons why children might engage in harmful sexual behaviour, the effects of harmful sexual behaviour on children and approaches to treatment and prevention.
Provision for young people who have displayed harmful sexual behaviour.
Smith, C. et al
Research by the University of Edinburgh/NSPCC Child Protection Research Centre to build a profile of the scope and nature of current service provision in the UK for young people displaying harmful sexual behaviour.
A qualitative study of children, young people and 'sexting': a report prepared for the NSPCC.
Ringrose, J. et al
Reports on a small scale qualitative study with young people on their experiences and use of online and mobile social media. Discusses the findings and provides recommendations for schools, parents, internet service and site providers and child welfare professionals.
Sexually harmful behaviour in young children and the link to maltreatment in early childhood (PDF, 44KB)
Summarises the findings of a study of 27 boys who began to cause sexual harm before the age of 10, based on information extracted from NCATS case files. Focuses on the attachment between a child and primary caregiver and the development of sexuality. Considers the impact of neglect and abuse on attachment and the prevalence of insecure attachment and sexual abuse before the onset of sexually harmful behaviour. Stresses the implications for assessment, accommodation, and treatment and the importance of sharing information with foster carers.
Children and young people with sexually harmful behaviour: is age of onset a factor? (PDF).
Hutton, L. and Whyte, B
Edinburgh: Criminal Justice Social Work Development Centre for Scotland, 2008
Reviews a number of studies examining the issue of early or late onset of harmful sexual behaviour as a distinguishing factor between groups of children and young people that display such behaviours. These studies found that those with early onset behaviours showed higher rates of inadequate parenting, poor sexual boundaries in the home, high levels of abuse/neglect, insecure attachments, more anti-social behaviour in general and a wider variety of victims. Those with late onset behaviours displayed a higher rate of substance misuse, a much more specific victim selection and a higher conviction rate for sexual offences.
Children and adolescents who present with sexually abusive behaviour: a UK descriptive study.
Vizard, E. et al
Journal of Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology 18(1), March 2007: 59-73
Describes the largest UK sample of young people presenting with sexually abusive behaviour to a fourth-tier NHS specialist service with the aim of presenting a description of the psychosocial and behavioural characteristics of these children. The sample had experienced extremely emotionally deprived and abusive upbringings, with family instability and dysfunction. Early onset of sexual and aggressive behaviour, neuropsychological deficits, and mental health problems were noted. Concludes that a matrix of developmental risk factors underlies the onset of sexually abusive behaviour.
A treatment manual for adolescents displaying harmful sexual behaviour: change for good.
McCrory, E. and Walker-Rhymes, P. (ill.)
Jessica Kingsley, 2011
A resource for clinicians working therapeutically with adolescents who have shown harmful sexual behaviour. Structured into 30 sessions over four modules that cover: engagement in therapy; looking at the young person's relationships; identifying and controlling emotions; and understanding distorted and healthy sexual relationships. Outlines the treatment approaches, developmental context and research background with practical advice on preparing for and delivering intervention. Includes session plans and activities. The accompanying CD-ROM contains the full manual as well as illustrations of people showing different emotions.
Buy this title from NSPCC publications.
Contemporary practice with young people who sexually abuse: evidence-based developments.
Calder, M. C. (ed.)
Russell House, 2011
Collection of articles on working with sexually abusive children and young people exploring both conceptual and practical issues. Subjects covered by chapters include: risk assessment; working holistically; typologies; issues of after care, attachment and mental health; working with siblings under 10 years; emotional intelligence and the practitioner; problematic/abusive sexual behaviour on-line; young people with learning disabilities; cognitive behavioural therapy; biofeedback, neuro-feedback and self regulation; reducing shame and increasing responsibility; training in social services; and coordinated and integrated systemic responses.
Understanding, assessing and rehabilitating juvenile sexual offenders. 2nd ed.
Textbook on the assessment, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of teenagers and young people who sexually abuse other children. Part 1 provides background information to help practitioners understand sexually abusive behaviour amongst young people with chapters on developmental experiences, attachment, and pathways to sexually abusive behaviour; part 2 looks at evaluation covering risk assessment; part 3 considers treatment and rehabilitation including forensic mental health treatment and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT); and part 4 explores approaches and methods to treatment such as victim awareness, individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy and adopting a holistic approach.
Juvenile sexual offending: causes, consequences and correction. 3rd ed.
Ryan, G., Leversee, T. and Lane, S. (eds.)
Looks at the assessment, treatment, supervision and care of adolescents with sexually harmful behaviour. Outlines the characteristics and behaviours of offenders and incidence and prevalence in the US. Discusses research and theory into the causes of sexually abusive behaviour considering brain growth and development. Examines the consequences for victims and the criminal justice system. Provides risk evaluations and practical guidelines for recidivism. Describes goal-oriented treatment, including abuse- and offence-specific interventions. Also looks at a public health approach to prevention and the impact on professionals.
Sexual abuse assessments: using and developing frameworks for practice.
Calder, M.C. (ed.)
Russell House Publishing, 2009
Examines ongoing problems with the recognition, assessment and management of sexual abuse, highlighting the lack of clear government guidance on how to work in this area. Presents updated assessment frameworks for assessing all aspects of child sexual abuse, including victims, sexually abusive children and young people, sexually abusive female adolescents and women, adult male sex offenders, and mothers of sexually abused children. Including assessment frameworks for rape, learning disability, and the internet. Includes a chapter on personal safety skills for children.
Your choice: challenging sexually harmful behaviour.
Barnardo's. Cymru, 2006
Resource consisting of DVD (20 minutes) and workbook aimed at professionals working with young men over 12 years old on issues of sexual offending or harmful sexual behaviour. The workbook is designed to be used with both individuals and groups and contains exercises which consider such issues as sexual attitudes, relapse prevention and victim empathy to raise awareness of the triggers to sexually abusive behaviour and strategies for avoiding repeat behaviour. The DVD is designed to be used in conjunction with the workbook and depicts the story of the sexual assault of an adolescent girl by two teenage boys to highlight behaviour and attitudes associated with teenage sexual offending as well as to illustrate the impact on the victim.
Getting it right for children and young people who present a risk of serious harm: meeting need, managing risk and achieving outcomes (PDF).
Scottish Government, 2008
Good practice guidance from the Scottish Government on working with children who display sexually harmful or violent behaviour. Outlines nine key areas of self assessment to ensure for organisations and agencies have in place the processes and staff competence to meet the child or young person's needs.
Young men who have sexually abused: a case study guide
Explores theoretical and practice issues in working with young men who have sexually abused. Links theory to practice and provides detailed case studies of young men who have committed varying acts of inappropriate or harmful sexual behaviours, and analyses the therapeutic interventions provided for each. Aims to provide a framework for assessing whether or not a child's sexual behaviour is a problem. Includes a full assessment schedule for determining the risks and needs of young men who have sexually abused. Discusses family assessment and support and gives guidance for managing difficult foster placements. Also contains advice on deciding when a young person is no longer a risk.
Teenage rape prevention advert.
Home Office (hosted by YouTube), 2012
1 minute awareness raising advert from the Home Office showing an adolescent boy watching himself forcing a girl to have sex with him at a party and trying to stop himself.
Preventing child sexual abuse: evidence, policy and practice.
Smallbone, S., Marshall, W. L. and Wortley, R.
Willan Publishing, 2008
Looks at prevention strategies aimed at preventing sexual abuse before it might otherwise occur through integrating clinical and criminological concepts with public policy. Empirical and theoretical knowledge concerning child sexual abuse is integrated with broader developments in evidence-based crime and child maltreatment prevention, leading to new ideas about understanding and preventing child sexual abuse.
The treatment of young people with harmful sexual behaviour
A treatment programme for children and young people displaying harmful sexual behaviour.
National Clinical Assessment and Treatment Service (NCATS)
A service providing intensive therapy to children and young people with serious harmful sexual behaviour.
Sexual abuse homepage
See all of our resources for professionals on working to prevent child sexual abuse.
News on harmful sexual behaviour
Keep up to date with the most recent developments on working with adult sex offenders pulled from CASPAR, the current awareness service for child protection policy, practice and research.
To find more resources searc the NSPCC Library Online for research and practice on children and young people with harmful sexual behaviour.