Harmful Sexual Behaviour

What is harmful sexual behaviour? 

Harmful sexual behaviour (HSB) is developmentally inappropriate sexual behaviour which is displayed by children and young people and which may be harmful or abusive (derived from Hackett, 2014). It may also be referred to as sexually harmful behaviour or sexualised behaviour.

HSB encompasses a range of behaviour, which can be displayed towards younger children, peers, older children or adults. It is harmful to the children and young people who display it, as well as the people it is directed towards.

What is Harmful Sexual Behaviour- NSPCC Guide

Learning from Harmful Sexual Behaviour


NSPCC Podcasts

Episode 1

Episode 1 explores topics including strategies and techniques to create a safe space in therapeutic sessions with children; how to provide clarity around confidentiality and safeguarding; and how and when to address harmful sexual behaviour in a session.

Listen to the podcast: Direct work with children displaying harmful sexual behaviour


Episode 2

Episode 2 two social workers and children’s practitioners talk about what to consider when planning therapeutic sessions for children displaying HSB. The conversation covers: how to prepare session plans; activities to help children explore their life experiences; how to address sensitive topics such as sex and HSB during therapeutic sessions.

Listen to the podcast: Planning therapeutic sessions for children displaying harmful sexual behaviour
Listen to the podcast on YouTube


Episode 3

The final episode explores the use of technology to facilitate HSB, and what’s available to professionals to help them make sense of the issues surrounding technology-assisted HSB.

Listen to the podcast: Technology-assisted harmful sexual behaviour
Listen to the podcast on YouTube