Harmful Sexual Behaviour

Harmful sexual behaviour can include using sexually explicit words and phrases, inappropriate touching and using sexual violence or threats, alongside other sexual acts.

What is Harmful Sexual Behaviour?

Sexual behaviour between children is considered harmful if the child is being coerced or threatened or if one of the children is older. When establishing if a child's sexual behaviour is harmful, we must not only take their age into account but also their physical, intellectual and emotional development.

Sexually harmful behaviours are likely to include elements of:

  • Coercion
  • Secrecy
  • Power imbalance possibly involving significant difference in age and developmental factors
  • Degradation and threats
  • Compulsive behaviours
  • Age inappropriate knowledge or experience
  • Use of bribes, gifts and removal of inhibitors, for instance through the use of drugs or alcohol.

Download the Peer on Peer Harmful Sexual Abuse policy 2022-2023

Sexualised behaviour which is significantly more advanced than you would normally expect for a child of a particular age or which shows a lack of inhibition, could be a cause for concern.

Preventing harmful sexual behaviour in children and young people

Preventing harmful sexual behaviour in children and young people is an interagency safeguarding issue.

The borough of Waltham Forest has identified a professional to lead on the issue of harmful sexual behaviour amongst those under 18 years of age.

  • The Borough's Harmful Sexual Behaviour Strategy provides a clear vision and strategic partnership objectives that promotes shared understanding, early intervention, prevention and risk management.
  • There is an established referral process for Educational Placements and Services within the Borough to enable them to access support, guidance, consultation, assessments and evidence based interventions for children and young people. Schools should be aware of the AIM Education Guidance (AIM – Assessment, Intervention, Moving on) to be able to identify concerns and then to act on them.

Assessment Intervention Moving on (AIM)

An AIM assessment should be undertaken in school if there are concerns in relation to harmful sexual behaviour. AIM assessments are screened by the BACME Service and schools are supported to determine the level of concern and appropriate response needed.

The BACME Service can support schools in completing AIM Assessments where there is concern around Harmful Sexual Behaviour (HSB). The service has a BACME Caseworker who can support schools to provide an integrated understanding of, and response to HSB.

The BACME Service can also provide support to identify a response to children and young people displaying HSB, as well as support with low-risk cases, to completing AIM assessment and intervention work.

The BACME Service promote effective assessment as key to preventing unnecessary use of specialist time and intensive resources with lower risk cases, and to support earlier interventions, where appropriate.

To make a referral for HSB support please email a referral form to BACME-referral@walthamforest.gov.uk

Guidance and Toolkits

Please find a range of additional guidance and support on Child Sexual Exploitation and harmful sexual behaviour below.

Useful Organisations 

The Lucy Faithful Foundation The Lucy Faithfull Foundation is a registered child protection charity which works across the UK to prevent child sexual abuse:

Telephone: 01527-591922
Email: referrals@lucyfaithfull.org 

NSPCC The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children has number of resources, literature and research information around harmful sexual behaviour. 

Barnardo's Their website contains a wide variety of research, reports, publications and training resources on harmful sexual behaviour in children and young people. 

The Good Lives Model of offender rehabilitation The Good Lives Model (GLM) is a strength-based rehabilitation framework that can assist practitioners to explicitly construct intervention plans that help offenders acquire the capacity to achieve things and outcomes that are personally meaningful to them.

E-mail: info@goodlivesmodel.com 

Brook Sexual behaviours Traffic Light Tool Supports professionals working with children and young people by helping them to identify and respond appropriately to sexual behaviour.

Email: trafficlights@brook.org.uk

The Empower Programme aims to reduce sexual violence and exploitation across London.

Telephone: 0207 021 0301
Email: empower@saferlondon.org.uk 

ICAN The iCAN framework developed at the Centre for Research on Children and Families, University of East Anglia, will help you in your daily work with children and young people and can be used as part of staff training.

Accounts of child sexual abuse shared with the Truth Project

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has published (June 2018) accounts of child sexual abuse shared with the Truth Project, set up for victims and survivors of child sexual abuse to share their experiences in a supportive and confidential setting.

The participants were able to share as little or as much as they want on any aspect of their experience.

If you would like to share your experience of child sexual abuse, and/or institutional failure, you can contact the Inquiry Information Line

Telephone: 0800 917 1000
Full details on services and support can be found on the Truth Project website

Underwear Rule

With the help of the friendly NSPCC dinosaur Pantosaurus, talking PANTS is a simple way to teach your child how to stay safe from abuse. Perhaps in your setting you have already talked to the children about things like crossing the road safely. Talking to them about staying safe from sexual abuse is just as easy with the PANTS activity pack.

Last update: Tuesday 22nd of February 2022 02:57:12 PM