Harmful sexual behaviour includes:

  • using sexually explicit words and phrases
  • inappropriate touching
  • using sexual violence or threats
  • full penetrative sex with other children or adults.

Children and young people who develop harmful sexual behaviour harm themselves and others.

 

Read more about harmful sexual behaviour

Children's stories

"I'd pulled my bedroom door off its hinges a couple of times. I didn't know how to deal with my anger."

Read Robbie's story

Help and advice

Signs, symptoms and effects

Find out about the signs, symptoms and effects of harmful sexual behaviour
Spotting signs of harmful sexual behaviour

Research and resources

Research and reports about harmful sexual behaviour, and resources for professionals.
Find research and resources

What we do about harmful sexual behaviour

Turn the Page

We protect children from the most common type of contact sexual abuse.
Turn the Page service

National Clinical Assessment and Treatment Service (NCATS)

Treating young high risk people who show the most serious kinds of harmful sexual behaviour.
National Clinical Assessment and Treatment Service (NCATS)

Get expert training and consultancy

Grow your child protection knowledge and skills with CPD certified courses delivered by our experts nationwide and online.
Get expert training

Specialist and bespoke child protection courses

Training on specialist child protection subjects and courses tailored to your staff's needs.
More on this

Child protection consultancy

Tailored safeguarding and child protection support for any organisation.
Our consultancy service

Childline

Childline is our free, confidential helpline for children and young people. Whenever children need us, Childline is there for them – by phone, email or live chat.

0800 1111

Read about Childline

Speak out. Stay safe.

Our programme (formerly Childline Schools Service) uses specially trained staff and volunteers to talk to primary school children about abuse.
Speak Out. Stay Safe.

Harmful sexual behaviour: seminar programme

Sharing what we've learnt from working with young people through our National Clinical Assessment and Treatment Service (NCATS)
Find out more

Harmful sexual behaviour framework

Framework to help local areas develop and improve multi-agency responses to children displaying harmful sexual behaviours (HSB). Developed by the NSPCC, Research in Practice and Professor Simon Hackett.
Find out more

Sexual abuse

A child is sexually abused when they are forced or persuaded to take part in sexual activities. This doesn't have to be physical contact, and it can happen online.
Read more about sexual abuse

Grooming

Children and young people can be groomed online or in the real world, by a stranger or by someone they know - for example a family member, friend or professional. 
Read more about grooming

Child sexual exploitation

Child sexual exploitation is a type of sexual abuse in which children are sexually exploited for money, power or status.
Read more about child sexual exploitation

What you can do

It's Time to demand change

Up to 90% of children who've been abused will develop mental health issues by the time they're 18.

Help us change this

Our research helps us be there for every child

Our research and services help prevent abuse and support families. Please help us to stop children suffering in silence.

Donate now

Call the NSPCC helpline

If you're worried about a child, even if you're unsure, contact our professional counsellors 24/7 for help, advice and support.

Call us or email help@nspcc.org.uk.

0808 800 5000

Report a concern