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If you suspect a child is at risk of harm, please call The Contact Centre on 01744676767


Harmful Sexual Behaviours (HSB)

'Sexual behaviours expressed by children and young people under the age of 18 years old that are developmentally inappropriate, may be harmful towards self or others, or be abusive towards another child, young person or adult'. (Working Together, 2018).

Professionals who work with families can struggle to  identify which sexual behaviours are potentially harmful and which represent healthy sexual development.

In St. Helens we use a coloured screening system to categorise the sexual behaviours of young people and is designed to help professionals:

  • Risky sexual behaviours - Make decisions about inappropriate behaviours in children and young people
  • Behaviours that we are worried about - Assess and respond appropriately to sexual behaviour in children and young people
  • Behaviours that are not a concern - Understand healthy sexual development and distinguish it from harmful behaviour

By categorising sexual behaviours as green, amber or red, professionals across different agencies can work to the same standardised criteria when making decisions with a unified approach. Please email safeguardingchildrenboard@sthelens.gov.uk for more guidance on this. 

In 2017, St Helens was awarded Early Adopter status for the NSPCC Harmful Sexual Behaviour Framework. The outcome of the initial audit was that St. Helens needs to develop its awareness, recognition and response to HSB. A full multi-agency response is underway and all partner agencies have identified a Champion for HSB within their organisation. All Champions are delivering awareness sessions for their organisations.

For more information please view:

HSB Champions List - Updated Apr 2021




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