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Harmful Sexual Behaviour

In the Beacon Project, we always emphasis that context is key to identifying if a young person is displaying harmful sexual behaviour and a multi-agency approach is essential when putting proportionate, holistic support in place.

What is Harmful Sexual Behaviour?

Harmful sexual behaviour (HSB) is a term used to describe sexual actions that are outside what is safe for a young person’s stage of development. It includes actions that can harm either the child or young person themselves, or another person. Harmful sexual behaviour can be in-person or online and can involve a range of behaviours.

In partnership with Simon Hackett, Durham University and NHS Health Education England, the NSPCC created a quick printable guide to help professionals remember how to recognise sexualised behaviour which you can see HERE.

Things to remember when supporting young people displaying harmful sexual behaviour

  • Work at their pace and meet them where they are at
  • Be trauma aware and think about their past experiences
  • Work in a strength-based way
  • Listen to understand
  • Reflect on your language
  • Be willing to learn
  • Be honest and transparent
  • Know your own limits
  • Work in partnership
  • Be curious and reflective

And finally, remember they’re still a child themselves and have the same rights as all other children.

Reading and resources for professionals

Everyone's Invited began in June 2020 with one person, Soma Sara, sharing their experiences of sexual abuse and rape culture, which has now resulted in over 50,000 anonymous submissions. View the website HERE 

In 2021, Ofsted was asked by the government to carry out a rapid review of sexual abuse in schools and colleges as a direct result of Everyone’s Invited. This report summarises the findings and recommendations. Beacon had the privilege of sharing the experiences of one of the young people who has been supported by our service for the report. The report can be viewed HERE

The Centre of Excellence for Child Sexual Abuse (CSA Centre) completed research on harmful sexual abuse in 2018, and key messages can be found here. View the website HERE

The NSPCC has a wealth of resources to support professionals who are working with young people displaying harmful sexualised behaviour, including reports, podcasts and online training. View the website HERE

StopItNow has a toolkit and helpline which not only focuses on harmful sexual behaviour but covers all child sexual abuse prevention. View the website HERE

The AIM Project (AIM) offers training, consultancy and resources for practitioners and managers to educate, support and develop their practice around harmful sexualised behaviour. View the website HERE

SWGfl is a charity which has been commissioned to create a support service for professionals working with children and young people in tackling harmful sexual behaviours with a free Monday-Friday 8am-8pm helpline and email support. View the website HERE

What support may be available for parents of young people displaying harmful sexual behaviour?

ParentsProtect has resources, training and a support line for parents and carers around child sexual abuse, exploitation, and harmful sexual behaviour (including technology assisted harmful sexual behaviour). View the website HERE

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command, or CEOP Command has articles, advice, and guidance for parents whose child has displayed harmful sexualised behaviour. View the website HERE

What does the Beacon Project do around Harmful Sexualised Behaviour?

As a service we do not offer direct work with young people who have displayed harmful sexual behaviour. However, if the young person has experienced sexual abuse themselves, we can offer in-direct specialist support to the professionals working with them. This can include advice, resources, and signposting. We offer 45-minute drop-in slots to professionals, free of charge, to discuss cases and offer next steps.

If you would like to book onto one of our 45-minute drop-in slots, please CLICK HERE.

How can we help you?

Use the button below to visit our contact page.

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