Harmful Sexual Behaviour

What is Harmful Sexual Behaviour

Harmful Sexual Behaviour is a term used to describe the behaviour some children display including the use of sexually explicit words and language, inappropriate touching and other sexual activity with other children. Children and young people who develop harmful sexual behaviour harm themselves and others.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has produced some guidance on Harmful sexual behaviour among children and young people (NICE guideline [NG55] Published date: September 2016)

This guideline covers children and young people who display harmful sexual behaviour, including those on remand or serving community or custodial sentences. It aims to ensure these problems don’t escalate and possibly lead to them being charged with a sexual offence. It also aims to ensure no-one is unnecessarily referred to specialist services.

‘Young people’ refers mainly to those aged 10 to 18 but also includes people up to 25 with special educational needs or a disability.

This guideline does not discuss people who have experienced sexual abuse. NICE will publish a guideline on child abuse and neglect in September 2017.


Further information can be found; including information to help you if you are unsure whether behaviour amounts to sexual harmful behaviour is harmful and effects of harmful sexual behaviour.