When children and young people display Harmful Sexual Behaviour (HSB)

21 November

Aston Conference Centre, Birmingham



November 21, 2018 - 10:00 am


November 21, 2018 - 3:45 pm


Aston University, The Aston Triangle, Birmingham, B4 7ET   View map

Approximately one third of sexual abuse against children and young people is perpetrated by other young people, aged under 18, including some very young children under the age of 12 years old. Previous research and policy reviews have highlighted the benefits to both the young person and to wider society, of early interventions. However, this requires a multi-agency approach where a wide range of service providers know what to look for and how to respond.

Harmful sexual behaviour is the umbrella term for a wide range of sexual behaviours which are of concern, from some low-level behaviour (problematic) related more to a lack of understanding, through to high level risk (harmful) behaviours such as sexual assault or rape, where there is clear intent to cause harm.

Although awareness among practitioners in a wide range of agencies re HSB is growing, the rapid change in societal attitudes towards sex and sexual imagery, particularly within the younger generation, has contributed to confusion about how to evaluate the level of risk posed.  It has created problems for professionals such as education staff, who are facing a rise in the number of sexual harassment and assault claims being made in school and college settings. “Now I know it was wrong: Report of the parliamentary inquiry into support and sanctions for children who display harmful sexual behaviour’ 2016” refers to the dilemma for professionals. Whilst trying to avoid criminalisation of young people engaging in common (but illegal) activity such as ‘sexting’, the risk remains that the behaviour of some individuals, who should be referred to statutory agencies such as the Police or Children’s Services, is masked by this ‘smoke screen’ of peer aged behaviour.

In recent years two new factors have changed the landscape of young people’s sexually harmful behaviour:

Technology Assisted Sexually Harmful behaviour – technology has had a significant impact upon young people’s sexual behaviour, and has facilitated the sexualising of children at a younger age. In 2013 the NSPCC estimated that the number of sex offences committed by under-18s had risen by almost 40% in three years. Much of this rise was attributed to the impact of sexually explicit material which is easily accessed on-line, and then shared.

Child sexual exploitation – a proportion of sexually harmful behaviour by young people is more appropriately classified as child sexual exploitation because it involves an element of ‘exchange’ for financial gain or status. Two examples are street gangs where the exploitation of female peers is often to coerce their cooperation, and on-street grooming where older teenage boys may be used to draw vulnerable younger females into prostitution with older men.

The distinction between sexually harmful behaviour and child sexual exploitation is an important one to make, as responses to it, and outcomes for the young people, can be very different. Young people who engage in child sexual exploitation behaviours: an exploratory study, published in 2018 by Durham University’s Centre of Expertise on Child Sexual Exploitation, highlighted concerns that some professionals could only access services for a young person if they were referred for Child Sexual Exploitation.

This learning day aims to provide mainstream professionals who work with children and young people with an accurate understanding of:

  • the different models of sexually harmful behaviour – including ‘specialist’ and ‘generalist’, Technology Assisted, and the crossover with Child Sexual Exploitation
  • Trajectories of offending behaviour, including the differences between age groups
  • how to recognise signs of sexually harmful behaviour, make an initial assessment, and respond appropriately.

This learning day is facilitated by the AIM Project, which develops Harmful Sexual Behaviour (HSB) assessment and intervention frameworks for practitioners and trains and advises a range of agencies on children and young people with problematic or harmful sexual behaviour.

The day is suitable for professionals who need an introduction to the nature and issues around harmful sexual behaviour by children and young people.

The sessions aim to provide mainstream professionals who work with children and young people with an accurate understanding of:

  • Information from research and practice about why children and young people might display problematic sexual behaviours or commit harmful sexual behaviours and what works with them and their families.
  • Framework for early decision making if there are concerns about sexual behaviours and when to refer to other statutory agencies such as Police or Children’s Services.
  • Current issues around technology assisted harmful sexual behaviours – TA-HSB where the concerns about sexual behaviour are either on the internet only, or dual – both internet and direct contact
  • Current issues around the overlap between harmful sexual behaviour (HSB) and child sexual exploitation (CSE), particularly in relation to young people.

Sessions will include:

  • Definitions of a continuum of harmful sexual behaviour (HSB) from healthy to problematic to harmful. How do we distinguish from children and young people’s normative sexual curiosity?
  • Up to date research and practice on why younger children under the age of 12 years may display problematic or harmful sexual behaviour
  • Up to date research and practice on why adolescents engage in problematic or harmful sexual behaviour, including emerging research on females. This includes differences between ‘specialist’ and ‘generalist’ offenders and also what works with individuals and their families.
  • Thinking about service responses appropriate within a range of settings – framework for early identification and suggestions for managing the risks and meeting the needs of the young person as well as work with their families.
  • An overview of the impact of technology on the sexual behaviour of children and young people and the AIM & NSPCC TA-HSB guidance
  • An overview of the overlap between HSB and Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) particularly when young people may be both.
  • Plenty of opportunities for questions and contributions

Agenda (subject to change)

9.30 – 10.00

Registration and coffee

10.00 – 10.05

Welcome and introduction

10.05 – 10.25

Definitions of healthy, problematic, and harmful sexual behaviours

10.25 – 11.00

Information from research and practice about why children under 12 years old might display concerning sexual behaviours.


11.00 – 11.20


11.20 – 12.00

Information from research and practice about why adolescents might display concerning sexual behaviours, including emerging information re females and the difference between ‘specialist’ and ‘generalist’ offenders


12.00 – 12.30

What do we know about what works with children and young people to manage or change their sexual behaviour and the role of ‘social anchors’(Hackett 2014) such as family, professionals etc. What would be appropriate work within your setting?


12.30 -1.20


1.20 -2.00

Framework for early decision making about level of concern and referrals to statutory agencies. Opportunity to try this out.


2.00 – 2.40

Overview of technology assisted harmful sexual behaviour TA-HSB and the AIM & NSPCC guidance

2.40 – 2.55

Quick break

2.55 – 3.45

Overview of the overlap between HSB and Child Sexual Exploitation in particular when a young person may engage in both.


Final questions and end of learning day


The day is suitable for professionals who need an introduction to the nature and issues around sexually harmful behaviour by children and young people.

  • Children’s social services
  • Services supporting young people
  • Children’s charities
  • Local Safeguarding Children Boards
  • Police
  • Youth Offending Services
  • Schools – teachers, teaching assistants, pastoral care staff, school nurses
  • Parent support services
  • Family support services
  • Community health services
  • CAMHS and other mental health services for children and young people
  • Domestic and sexual violence services
  • Organisations which support young victims of abuse and their families
  • Drug and alcohol services


About the AIM Project:

The AIM Project is a registered Charity and its remit is to support and develop practice across agencies in relation to children and young people with harmful sexual behaviour (HSB) and is one of the leading agencies in this field. It provides training, consultancy, practice guidance and assessment models for a range of practitioners, throughout Ireland and the UK and internationally. The AIM2 adolescent HSB risk assessment model is the primary model used across Ireland and the UK and is cited by the Youth Justice Board as an appropriate specialist HSB assessment in a criminal and welfare context.

The AIM Project is committed to the development of multi-agency practice and has produced guidance for professionals working in Education, Residential Social Work and Foster Care to supplement the Assessment and Intervention Models for children and young people, used by Children’s Services, Youth Justice and Specialist Services in HSB. Specific training is also offered for those working in the Court services, such as Magistrates and Liaison and Diversion staff.

The knowledge base around HSB is growing and new practice issues are arising. The AIM Project and its Associates keep up to date with key changes in practice, such as technology assisted HSB (TA-HSB) and have developed in partnership with NSPCC, guidance for practitioners on assessing sexual behaviours where TA-HSB is a factor. AIM is also working on developing an HSB risk assessment model for young people on the autistic spectrum.

Delegate fee:

 £130 + VAT = £156

*Team of 3 (3rd person attends for half price) £325 + VAT = £390

*Team of 5 (5th person attends for free) £520 + VAT = £624

ring 0115 916 3104 for details.


Included in the delegate package:

  • Delegate pack
  • Lunch
  • Refreshments available throughout the day


Booking Terms and Conditions

Cancellations received up to and including 31 October 2018 will be refunded in full less an administration fee of 25%. Cancellations received after this date will be liable for payment in full.

Team bookings are non-cancellable but substitute delegates will always be accepted.

The full invoice amount will remain payable if you fail to attend the event, however, substitute delegates will be accepted up until, and including, the day of the event.



Confirmation of booking:

Your booking will be confirmed by email where possible (and by fax or post otherwise), and you will be provided with directions to the venue and details on nearby hotel accommodation. If you do not receive such acknowledgement, please contact Central Conference Consultants Ltd on 0115 916 3104.

The training will take place in Birmingham City Centre:

Conference Aston Meeting Suites

Aston University,

The Aston Triangle,


B4 7ET

Venue telephone – 0121 204 4300

New Street, Snow Hill and Moor Street train stations are all within 20 minutes walk of the venue or a 5 minute taxi journey.

Car parking and direction information

Follow this link for a downloadable map, directions and car park information:  http://www.conferenceaston.co.uk/attending-an-event/how-do-i-get-to-you/

There are pay and display car parks on-site but spaces must be booked in advance – follow the link above to do this.


 There is a hotel on-site in the Aston Business School

Follow this link for costs, details of rooms and booking information: