Research in 2017 identified a 5% increase in recorded sexual offending in Scotland and 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 an 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 as potential causes or links to harmful sexual behaviour in Scotland. The result was this study by CYCJ, which aimed to fill these research gaps.
The specific research aims of the study 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
This report, written by Kristina Moodie, shares findings from this research.