Harmful sexual behaviour Facts and statistics

There are no official statistics that tell us how many children have harmful sexual behaviour. Estimates come from research studies. Offences reported to the police are likely to be significant under-estimations because harmful sexual behaviour is under-recognised and under-reported.

The vast majority of children with harmful sexual behaviour have themselves experienced physical, emotional or sexual abuse.

Explanation: Research studies into children with harmful sexual behaviour are often quite small. However most do find that children with harmful sexual behaviour have also experienced other types of abuse, including sexual abuse.

We hold Children and young people with harmful sexual behaviours in our library.

A significant minority of victims of child sexual exploitation are also perpetrators.

Explanation: 2,409 children were confirmed as victims of sexual exploitation in gangs and groups during the 14-month period from August 2010 to October 2011. Of these, 155 were identified as also being perpetrators of child sexual exploitation.

People

Over 4,200 children and young people were reported as perpetrators of sexual abuse in 2013-14.

Explanation: The NSPCC’s FOI request to police forces in England and Wales found that 4,209 young people under 18 were recorded as perpetrators of sexual offences against other children in 2013-14.

Around a third of sexual abuse is committed by other children and young people.

Explanation: Research and crime statistics suggest that anywhere from one-fifth to two-thirds of sexual abuse is committed by other children and young people. Hackett (2014) gives an overview of some of the key studies. The NSPCC uses the figure of “around a third” as a mid-way point between the lower end and the higher end of the estimates.

We hold Children and young people with harmful sexual behaviours in our library.

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