© Barnardo’s, 2016
This inquiry determined to consider several aspects of harmful sexual behaviour (HSB) from it’s definition, prevalence and who is at risk, effect of internet, to whether current legislation, policy and practice are fit for purpose. It considers links between HSB and child sexual exploitation and explores how effectively the police, criminal justice system, health services and schools respond to HSB and whether changes in policy or practice are needed.
It’s main recommendations are:
1. Children who display harmful sexual behaviour (HSB) should be treated as children first and foremost.
2. The Government should work with relevant partners to develop a national strategy for preventing and responding to harmful sexual behaviour in children
3. The Government should work closely with schools, local government, the voluntary sector and others to: a. Improve support for parents in keeping their children safe from HSB; b. Increase children’s knowledge and understanding of safe and healthy relationships; and c. Restrict access to inappropriate online content. Improving responses to HSB and improving prevention will require a multi-faceted approach.
4. The Government should work with partners to commission research to further our understanding of HSB, in order to: a. Improve identification of children at risk; b. Improve prevention of HSB and CSE/A; c. Identify gaps in provision; d. Improve the effectiveness of interventions; e. Improve outcomes for children who display HSB.