Young people who place themselves at risk


Some children and young people can place themselves at risk of significant harm from their own behaviour. Concerns about these children and young people can be as significant as the concerns about those children who are at risk because of their care environment. The main difference is the source of risk: commonly, these children and young people are at risk as a direct result of their own behaviour though it should be recognised that at least some of the negative behaviour may stem from experiences of abuse.. Where such risk is identified, as with other child protection concerns, it is important that a multi-agency response is mobilised. The key test for triggering these processes should always be the level of risk to the individual child and whether the risk is being addressed, not the source of risk.


While not exhaustive, the following lists the different types of concern that may arise:

  • self-harm and/or suicide attempts;
  • substance misuse;
  • running away/going missing;
  • inappropriate sexual behaviour or relationships (aspects of this are treated in the section on under-age sexual activity);
  • sexual exploitation;
  • problem sexual behaviour;
  • violent behaviour; and
  • criminal activity.
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