Harmful Sexual Behaviours

Sexual behaviours which indicate or cause harm because they are:

  • excessive, compulsive, coercive, forceful,
  • degrading or threatening
  • secretive, manipulative or involve
  • bribery or trickery
  • not appropriate for the age and
  • stage of development
  • between children with a significant difference in age, developmental ability or power

These behaviours signal the need to provide immediate protection and follow up support.

0 to 4 years

  • compulsive masturbation which may be self injurious, of a persistent nature or duration
  • persistent explicit sexual themes in talk, art or play
  • disclosure of sexual abuse
  • simulation of sexual touch or sexual activity
  • persistently touching the genitals / private parts of others
  • forcing other children to engage in sexual activity
  • sexual behaviour between young children
  • involving penetration with objects, masturbation of others, oral sex
  • presence of a sexually transmitted infection

5 to 9 years

  • compulsive masturbation e.g. self injuring, self harming, seeking an audience
  • disclosure of sexual abuse
  • persistent bullying involving sexual aggression e.g. pulling/lifting/removing other children’s clothing, sexually threatening notes, drawing, text messages
  • sexual behaviour with significantly younger or less able children
  • accessing the rooms of sleeping children to touch or engage in sexual activity
  • simulation of, or participation in, sexual activities e.g. oral sex, sexual intercourse
  • presence of a sexually transmitted infection
  • persistent sexual activity with animals
  • using mobile phones and internet which includes giving out identifying details or sexual images

10 to 13 years

  • compulsive masturbation e.g. self harming, seeking an audience
  • engaging vulnerable others in a process to gain sexual activity by using grooming techniques e.g. gifts, lies, flattery
  • force or coercion of others into sexual activity
  • oral sex and/or intercourse with a person of different age, developmental ability and/or peer grouping
  • presence of sexually transmitted infection or pregnancy
  • deliberately sending and/or publishing sexual images of self or another person
  • arranging a face to face meeting with an online acquaintance
  • sexual contact with animals
  • sexual activity in exchange for money or goods
  • possessing, accessing or sending child exploitation materials e.g. photos of children naked or in sexual activities

14 to 17 years

  • compulsive masturbation e.g. self harming, in public, seeking an audience
  • preoccupation with sexually aggressive and/or illegal pornography
  • sexual contact with others of significant age and/or developmental difference
  • engaging others in a process to gain sexual activity by using grooming techniques e.g. gifts, manipulation, lies
  • deliberately sending and/or publishing sexual images of another person without their consent
  • arranging a meeting with an online acquaintance without the knowledge of a peer or known adult
  • sexual contact with animals
  • sexual activity in exchange for money, goods, accommodation, drugs or alcohol
  • forcing or manipulating others into sexual activity
  • possessing, accessing or sending child exploitation materials

 

Orange sexual behaviours are outside normal behaviour in terms of persistence, frequency or inequality in age, power or ability signal the need to monitor and provide extra support. Read more.
 

Green sexual behaviours are normal, age appropriate, spontaneous, curious, mutual, light hearted and easily diverted experimentation provide opportunities to talk, explain and support. Read more.

 

Identify the behaviour
Understand the behaviour
Respond to address the child's needs

 

This content originally published by Family Planning Queensland. © 2012 Family Planning Queensland. Reprinted with permission.