Harmful Sexual Behaviour

This page is to help teachers and other practitioners in supporting young people who display Harmful Sexual Behaviour (HSB).

In 2013, Guidelines were created by Stirling, Falkirk and Clackmannanshire Education departments to help schools deal with incidents of HSB and to better support the young people involved. The full Guidelines are here msb-nov2021.pdf (centralsexualhealth.org)

The Guidelines sit within the wider scope of Management of Sexual Behaviour, along with other approaches such as TAC meetings, CARM, teaching RSHP, as shown in this diagram.

 

Below are sections of the Guidelines and resources to assist school staff. 

  1. 1.    Prevention of Harmful Sexual Behaviour.

The Expert Group Report from the Scottish Government (202O) recommends that schools teach Relationships, Sexual Health & Parenthood Education as a key preventative measure.  Without the relevant skills and knowledge, how will children & young people know how to behave? This is particularly important for learners with additional support needs/learning disabilities who are less likely to receive RSHP and more likely to experience harmful sexual behaviour.

This diagram demonstrates the key role of RSHP as a Preventative measure for ALL children and also for those who exhibit HSB.

The recommended ‘go-to’ resource for RSHP (Scottish Government 2010) is the national RSHP resource www.rshp.scot

Remember that effective RSHP needs to be age appropriate. Secondary school aged young people with learning disabilities need secondary school level RSHP (topics at levels 3, 4 and above, albeit adapted to an easier to read format if necessary). This ensures that their learning keeps up with their sexual development, fulfils their natural curiosity, equates to the real world they live in and helps to encourage appropriate, healthy behaviour.

 

  1. 2.    Initial Identification of Harmful Sexual Behaviour.

When HSB occurs, a good starting point is to consider- is it age appropriate, concerning or very concerning behaviour? The Traffic Light Tool (Cavanagh Johnson, T) offers a guide to sexual behaviour in different age groups. Remember to use the chronological age for children/young people with a learning disability as hormones/body changes/sexual drives and urges will happen at the same time as their peers.

Remember this is a Guide only- to be used alongside your own knowledge and understanding of the young person and the situation.

Age 0-4 Link Sexual Behaviours number 3

Age 5-7 Link Sexual Behaviours number 4

Age 8-12 Link Sexual Behaviours number 5

Age 13-18 Link Sexual Behaviours number 6

 

The Hackett Continuum also provides a Guide to Identifying Behaviour. It includes some of the motive and nature behind the behaviour- is it just bravado, a single occurrence, showing off? Or does it involve coercion, abuse of power, force? 

 

  1. 3.    Record of what happened.

Recording of any incident should be factual and must include the child’s own explanation of events (Voice Of The Child is very important). Why did they do it?

Recording can be in pastoral notes or behaviour log. Alternatively there is a Sexual Behaviour Monitoring Form, courtesy of the Aim Project. 

All incidents should be recorded. This helps to see triggers and habits – is it happening at certain times? With a particular teacher? Aimed at one young person? When they are tired/frustrated? At school and at home? This is sometimes called Pattern Mapping. It also allows us to monitor progress and success of any interventions.

Remember that behaviour change can take a long time. Monitoring can go on for considerable periods.

 

  1. 4.    Intervention and Action Plan.

What does this child /young person need? It is not enough just to stop the behaviour- we have to fulfil the needs of child/ young person to be successful. 

We have created a Young Person’ Checklist based on the Good Lives Model theory of holistic intervention, and in line with the GIRFEC SHANARRI wheel.

The Checklist looks at aspects such as Having fun, Achieving, Being my own person, Having people in my life, Having a purpose/ making a difference, Being safe, Emotional Health, Sexual health, General health.  These can all impact on behaviour, including HSB.

 

  1. 5.    What role do the school play in supporting this child/young person? What can the school do?

Roles should be based on expertise. The child/young person deserves the best person for the job.

 For example;

  • School should be teaching Relationships, Sexual Health & Parenthood Education. This may need to be repeated through class work or some intensive one-to-one support.

Teachers are the best people to teach RSHP. This is their area of expertise. They also know how much prior learning that child/young person has received and any additional support the may need to learn, respond and develop.

This responsibility lies with the school, not with other agencies.

Schools can also;

  • Ask parents to replicate RSHP learning at home.
  • Work with parents to introduce boundaries, rewards, consequences.
  • Parents and school can complete the Young Person’s Checklist (above) and work with the child/young person on developing areas to meet their needs.
  • Schools can also offer a range of other support/initiatives e,g. Buddy Systems, Nurturing, Mentors In Violence Prevention. 

Other agencies have expertise elsewhere; Social Work can support home life, CAMHS with assessments, Youth Justice with targeted intervention where necessary. This diagram demonstrates the key role of school and home. Follow-Up

 

  1. 6.    Examples of strategies/ interventions to support with HSB.

Taken from the Appendix of the Guidelines, some examples of approaches and interventions including Masturbation, Touching Others, Pornography, Grooming etc

 

  1. 7.     Further Help, Support and Information.

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