Harmful sexual behaviour

What is harmful sexual behaviour?

Harmful sexual behaviour (HSB) is developmentally inappropriate sexual behaviour displayed by children and young people which is harmful or abusive1.

Peer-on-peer sexual abuse is a form of HSB where sexual abuse takes place between children of a similar age or stage of development.

Problematic sexual behaviour (PSB) is developmentally inappropriate or socially unexpected sexualised behaviour which doesn’t have an overt element of victimisation or abuse.


Hackett, S. (2014) Children and young people with harmful sexual behaviours. London: Research in Practice

Training to help manage HSB in schools

Responding to an incident

Advice on how to respond to an incident of HSB, PSB or peer-on-peer sexual abuse to support all children involved.

Find out more

Preventative measures

What you need to do to help create a safe culture for all children and young people in your school or organisation.

Find out more

Staff online training

Training to help school staff increase their confidence and gain the skills to effectively manage incidents of sexualised behaviour.

Find out more

Use resources with children

Access free resources to use with children and young people to help promote healthy relationships in age-appropriate ways.

Find out more