Some sexual behaviour is a normal part of children’s development; however, the behaviour becomes harmful when it is inappropriate for the child’s age or causes others harm. Harmful sexual behaviour may involve using sexually explicit language, sexualised role-play/games, inappropriate sexual touching or creating and sharing sexually explicit images.
What you can do to help if you are worried about sexual behaviours of a child or young person:
• Don’t panic
• Talk to your child about your concerns using language and ideas your child will understand
• Avoid making your child feel ashamed
• Create an environment where your child feels safe to share their thoughts and feelings by being open, honest and understanding
• Talk to your child about the importance of recognising and respecting personal boundaries
• Talk to your child about consent and the importance of respecting people saying no
• Praise your child for being respectful to others
• Ensure the age appropriateness of television and computer games your child is exposed to
• Provide opportunities for safe age appropriate behaviours
• Have age appropriate conversations about sex and consent
Some parents may find it difficult having conversations about sex with their children. See tips from the NSPCC.
It can be difficult knowing what is and isn’t appropriate for your child’s age and stage of development. The Brooks Traffic Light Tool is a helpful tool to identify if the behaviour is age appropriate.
Consultations to the Harmful Sexual Behaviour team can only be accessed by professionals who work with or who come across a child or young person displaying harmful sexual behaviour.Therefore, if you become aware of or are worried about your child demonstrating inappropriate sexual behaviours, speak to a professional such as a teacher, GP or social worker, who can seek advice from our team if appropriate.
If you need urgent advice, contact our Children’s Advice and Duty Service (CADS) on 0344 800 8021 (8am-8pm Monday - Friday). See the CADS website for more information. In an emergency, call the police.