• Bristol
  • North Somerset
  • South Gloucestershire

Introduction to harmful sexual behaviour

Children and young people who display harmful sexual behaviour may have previously experienced harm from somebody else and often need help themselves. 

Harmful sexual behaviour (HSB) is described by stopitnow.org as 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. 

It can include: 

  • frequently and intentionally accessing age-inappropriate sexual material online.

  • using inappropriate language.

  • undertaking mutual sexual activity they are not ready for with peers.

  • sending and receiving illegal images, sexual interactions where there are significant power differences, lack of consent, or through force or threats.

  • engaging in abusive or sexually violent sexual behaviour online or offline.