Harmful sexual behaviour: learning from case reviews

Last updated: 04 Sep 2018 Topics: Case reviews Harmful sexual behaviour

Summary of risk factors and learning for improved practice around harmful sexual behaviour

Harmful sexual behaviour (HSB) can be a challenging issue for professionals to manage. A child who displays HSB can have a range of behaviours, which need a safeguarding response. HSB has been identified as a significant risk factor in some serious case reviews.

Published case reviews show that professionals can find it difficult to respond to the safeguarding implications of HSB. There may be several children involved, each of whom will have different needs, and minimising the immediate effects of an incident can become a priority. Because of this, professionals can find themselves managing individual episodes rather than looking at the bigger picture.

The learning from these reviews highlights that children who display HSB need support and understanding. HSB should be recognised as a potential indicator of abuse and professionals should work together to look for the reasons behind a child's behaviour and consider appropriate safeguarding responses.

Published: February 2017