New framework launched to support work with harmful sexual behaviours

There is currently no national strategy for tackling harmful sexual behaviour, meaning many children are being left with poor access to support.

NSPCC, in collaboration with Research in Practice, youth justice agencies and council leaders, have developed a new online framework to support a shared understanding, consistent approaches and improved practice when dealing with children and young people displaying harmful sexual behaviour.

The framework contains a set of auditing tools and standards for local authorities to use to assess current service provision and identify where improvements are needed. It draws on the Harmful Sexual Behaviours: Evidence Review authored by Simon Hackett for Research in Practice, along with new findings, to present key evidence, considerations and recommendations, in order to support a clearer understanding of harmful sexual behaviours.

Nearly a third (32%) of professionals consider harmful sexual behaviour as an issue ‘of most concern’ in their local areas. Online abuse and child sexual exploitation are locally important to around half of professionals (59% and 48%), most likely due to high-profile cases and statutory requirements to have specific local procedures to cover CSE. The framework can help local areas develop a consistent approach to these areas of concern.

‘HSB is a complex issue, not least because young people can be both perpetrators and vulnerable to abuse at the same time. Identifying and responding in practice requires in-depth knowledge, yet we still have a long way to go to develop a consistent national understanding of and approach to working with HSB. We hope that this framework, building on Simon Hackett’s work in partnership with experts across the sector, will move us in the right direction.’

Dez Holmes, Director, Research in Practice

Visit to download the framework and guidance on how to use it in practice.