A review of the research on children and young people who display harmful sexual behaviour online (HSB)

Last updated: 04 Sep 2018 Topics: Harmful sexual behaviour Online safety

What online HSB is and how it compares to HSB offline

This review of the literature about online harmful sexual behaviour (HSB) was carried out to help inform and update guidance for practitioners working with children and young people with harmful sexual behaviour.

The report brings together current research on the developmental appropriateness of children's sexual behaviour online and the comparison and cross-over between children and young people displaying online and offline HSB.

This report is part of our Impact and evidence series.

Authors: Emma Belton and Vicki Hollis
Published: 2016


Key findings

Key findings from the review of literature published between 2000 and 2015 include:

  • a small proportion of young people view violent pornography or online child abuse images
  • the likelihood of viewing indecent images of children (IIOC) appears to increase with the frequency in which young people view pornography online
  • young people known to have viewed IIOC appear to have different backgrounds, characteristics, friendships and sexual interests to those who have committed contact sexual offences
  • a small proportion of young people who view IIOC online go on to commit further sexual offences. Young people displaying offline HSB were more likely to reoffend than those displaying online HSB.

Citation

Please cite as: Belton, E. and Hollis, V. (2016) A review of the research on children and young people who display harmful sexual behaviour online: what is developmentally appropriate online sexual behaviour, do children and young people with online versus offline harmful sexual behaviours (HSB) differ, and is there an association between online and offline HSB? London: NSPCC.