C & YP displaying harmful or problematic behaviour

Children and young people who display harmful or problematic sexual behaviour


Harmful or problematic sexual behaviour in children and young people can be difficult to identify. It is not always easy to distinguish between what is abusive and/or inappropriate and what constitutes normal adolescent experimentation. Practitioners' ability to determine if a child's sexual behaviour is developmentally typical, inappropriate or abusive will be based on an understanding of what constitutes healthy sexual behaviour in childhood as well as issues of informed consent, power imbalance and exploitation.


In managing and reducing risk, the diversity of potential behaviour and motivation for such behaviour must be taken into account. Children and young people display a wide range of sexual behaviour in terms of: the nature of behaviour; degree of force; motivation; level of intent; level of sexual arousal; and age and gender of victims. Children and young people who have displayed harmful or problematic sexual behaviour may themselves have been or have been abused or harmed in some way. Broader developmental issues must also be taken into account, including the age of the young person, their family and background, their intellectual capacities and stage of development. Young people with learning difficulties are a particularly vulnerable and often overlooked group who may need specific types of interventions.


Where abuse of a child is alleged to have been carried out by another child or young person, such behaviour should always be treated seriously and be subject of a child concern notification to relevant agencies, both in respect of the victim and the perpetrator. In all cases where a child or young person presents problem sexual behaviour, immediate consideration should be given to whether action requires to be taken under child protection procedures, either to protect the victim or because there is concern about what has caused the child/young person to behave this way.


Children who have displayed harmful or problematic sexual behaviour often require a coordinated multi-agency response from social work, health, education, the reporter and in more serious cases the procurator fiscal.  The multi-agency response can be co-ordinated through MAPPA, Young Peoples Significant Risk Advisory Group (YPSRAG) or through less formal risk management meetings.



Young Persons Significant Risk Advisory Group (YPSRAG)


Fife partners that address the risk posed by serious sexual and violent offenders have been conscious of the close relationship between YPSRAG and MAPPA and have attempted to ensure that there is no public protection gap existing between the two. We have carefully developed and structured the attached framework clarifying the reporting structure between both areas. 


There will be occasions where individuals who are managed through YPSRAG also require to be considered by the MAPPA Group. Young people who are considered to be most serious risks for the community will generally be those who are referred on to MAPPA for their consideration.


Learning Disability and Mental Health SRAG


Where the Fife Forensic Learning Disability Team (FFLDT) or the Fife Community Forensic Mental Health Team(FCFMHT) identify ongoing public protection issues for an individual who is not managed through MAPPA, details about the individual will be passed to the MAPPA Co-ordinator for information and discussion and a decision regarding the requirement for a full MAPPA referral.


Criteria for referral to the Learning Disability and Mental Health SRAG should relate to individuals who:

  • are current registered sex offenders or alleged to have sexually offended;
  • are people required to register as sex offenders;
  • have previously been registered as sex offenders but the period has expired;
  • are violent offenders/potential violent offenders;
  • are dangerous offenders/potential dangerous offenders; and
  • present in a dangerous way and pose a significant risk to the community.






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