A collection of research studies and practice resources for professionals working with adolescents and children who display harmful sexual behaviour.
Provision for young people who have displayed harmful sexual behaviour
Connie Smith 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.
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Child protection news on harmful sexual behaviour
A qualitative study of children, young people and 'sexting': a report prepared for the NSPCC
Jessica, Ringrose 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.
Teen rape 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.
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.
Sexual abuse assessments: using and developing frameworks for practice.
Martin C. Calder (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.
Preventing child sexual abuse: evidence, policy and practice.
Stephen Smallbone, William L. Marshall and Richard Wortley
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.
Children and young people with sexually harmful behaviour: is age of onset a factor? (PDF).
Linda Hutton and Bill Whyte
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.
Comparing the developmental and behavioral characteristics of female and male juveniles who present with sexually abusive behaviour.
Nicole Hickey et al
Journal of Sexual Aggression 14(3), November 2008: 241-252
Compares 22 female and 254 male juveniles who sexually abuse. Participants were all referred to a UK specialist community forensic service, in relation to family environment, maltreatment experience, psychiatric diagnoses and perpetrated abusive behaviour. Consistent with previous studies, perpetrated behaviour was similar across genders, but females were significantly more likely to have been sexually victimised as children, at a younger age and by a greater number of abusers. They were also more likely to have been exposed to inadequate sexual boundaries at home.
Freely view abstract or access full text by subscription: Journal of Sexual Aggression 14(3): 241-252
Working with children and young people who sexually abuse: taking the field forward.
Martin C. Calder (ed.)
Russell House Publishing, 2007
Reports on developments in practice, research, theory, assessment and intervention for young people with harmful sexual behaviours. Chapters cover working with Black and Asian young people, young people with learning difficulties or personality disorders, young internet offenders. Considers the use of typologies to individualise direct work; implementing the Good Lives Model; group work; social responsibility therapy; and working with families. Discusses deviant arousal and recidivism; restorative justice approaches; risk assessments and risk prediction; evidence based practice; and attachment theory.
Children and adolescents who present with sexually abusive behaviour: a UK descriptive study.
Eileen Vizard 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.
Freely view abstract or access full text by subscription: Journal of Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology 18(1): 59-73
Youths who sexually harm: a multivariate model of behaviour.
Louise Almond and David Canter
Journal of Sexual Aggression 13(3), November 2007: 217-233
Looks at the variations in the behaviour of young people who sexually harm. Results showed that 86% of the adolescents studied showed one dominant mode of behaviour from the three types of behaviour identified (victim as object, victim as person, victim as vehicle).
Freely view abstract or access full text by subscription: Journal of Sexual Aggression 13(3): 217-233
Sexually abusive behaviour by children and adolescents.
Child and Adolescent Mental Health 11(1), February 2006: 2-8
Considers the estimated scale of the problem of sexual aggression in children and young people; the characteristics of children who sexually abuse and the origins of their behaviour; outcomes and successful intervention programmes; and, the provision of services. Argues that a coherent government policy is needed in relation to sexually abusive behaviour by children and adolescents.
Freely view abstract or access full text by subscription: Child and Adolescent Mental Health 11(1): 2-8
Youth who sexually harm: a multivariate model of characteristics.
Louise Almond, David Canter and Gabrielle C.Salfati
Journal of Sexual Aggression 12(2), July 2006: 97-114
Presents findings from a study which examined differences in characteristics of sexually abusive adolescents. The files of 300 cases of sexually abusive adolescents were used to analyse whether they could be assigned into one of the three conceptually distinct sets of background characteristics identified in the literature: abused, delinquent or learning impaired. The findings identified that 71% of the youths could be assigned to one of the three background characteristics - thereby providing support for the hypothesis. Argues that these findings have implications for practitioners in their differentiation between young people who sexually harm.
Freely view abstract or access full text by subscription: Journal of Sexual Aggression 12(2): 97-114
Links between juvenile sexually abusive behaviour and emerging severe personality disorder traits in childhood (PDF).
Nicole Hickey et al
Department of Health (DoH), 2006
Presents findings from a detailed study of 280 juvenile sexual abusers referred to the NSPCC's Young Abusers Project. The aims of the study were: to provide a detailed description of this population; to determine whether the age of onset of sexually abusive behaviour could distinguish distinct subgroups of sexually abusive young people; and, to determine whether a distinct subgroup of juvenile sexual abusers could be identified on the basis of emerging severe personality disorder (ESPD) traits. Clinical, policy and research implications are discussed, and, the need for specialist services, integrated governmental approaches, and research on treatment efficacy, and ESPD traits in childhood are highlighted.
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.
Children and young people who sexually abuse: new theory, research and practice developments.
Martin C. Calder (ed.)
Russell House, 2005
Builds on the author's earlier work to consolidate knowledge on a range of topics and stimulate debates around the subject of sexually abusive children and young people. Themed sections address theory and research development, assessment issues, practice issues, management issues, treatment and outcomes. Further reading at the end of each chapter. Includes a chapter on attachment insecurity as a predisposing and precipitating factor.
Change for good: a treatment manual for adolescents displaying 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.