The Children and Young People’s Centre for Justice (CYCJ) has published a report examining the childhoods of children who display Harmful Sexual Behaviour (HSB), finding clear evidence of neglect and abuse.
‘Harmful sexual behaviours by children’ by Kristina Moodie shares research undertaken in response to findings from Scotland’s Expert Group on Preventing Sexual Offending by Children and Young People.
Although incidences of harmful sexual behaviour remain low, research in 2017 identified a 5% increase in recorded sexual offending in Scotland. It indicated this increase was linked to a growth in online sexual offending and was involving younger children, with a large proportion of harmful sexual behaviour towards children being carried out by children.
This led to the Expert Group on Preventing Sexual Offending by Children and Young People being created by the Scottish Government. In January 2020, the group published Prevention of and Responses to Harmful Sexual Behaviour by Children and Young People.
One of the proposals made within this report was to commission further research examining the impact of childhood experiences. Using secondary analysis of an existing dataset containing information on children at high risk, and where harmful sexual behaviour was a concern, the impact of childhood experiences was examined.
The specific research aims of CYCJ’s research were:
- To examine and describe the childhood experiences of children referred to the Interventions for Vulnerable Youth (IVY) project who are displaying Harmful Sexual Behaviour (HSB)
- To explore potential links between childhood experiences and HSB
- To illustrate potential patterns of childhood experiences and HSB
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